Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: – Colossians 1:24
Notice the expression of Paul near the end of the verse, “for his body’s sake.” Paul claimed that he was suffering for the church’s sake.
Now, take a look at a clip from one of the most revered speeches in modern American history.
School children learn the words of President Kennedy. One person can start the quote and another can finish it. JFK’s words are among the most memorable, as he said, “…Ask what you can do for your country.”
I am not throwing a blanket endorsement on everything President Kennedy said or did, but I think these words strike a chord in our hearts. I have to wonder if people, in general, apply that same concept to the work of the church.
If I were asked, I would say, “No.”
It seems that the common idea is, “What can the church do for me?” When speaking about churches, many people inevitably ask, “What does it offer for my children?” What does it provide for ladies? What does it do for seniors? Do the men have outings? What kind of youth activities are done? Does the church offer AWANA? The list is endless, but the point remains. Many people are interested in what the church can do for them.
I am not saying that everyone believes this way or thinks this way. I am just calling attention to what I believe to be a growing problem.
I believe there is a danger in wanting the church to do for you without wanting to give your own labors.
Notice that the apostle Paul wrote the Colossian letter from prison. He testified of his sufferings, but he said that he would fill up his share of those afflictions for the church’s sake. In other words, I think Paul would not ask, “What can the church do for me?” I believe he would ask, “What can I do for the church?”
We ought to say, “Lord, what can I do in your work?” Are there needs for children’s workers? Yes. So, why not be involved? Are there needs for soul winners? Yes. Ask how you can be involved? Are there needs for people to keep the prayer meetings going? Yes. Ask how you can be involved!
I also think we should consider the dangers of judging a church based upon what we think it can do for us.
No church is perfect. No church is going to offer everything to everyone’s satisfaction. Yet, the emphasis should not be on the programs of the church. The emphasis ought to be on the God of the church. God did not call us to programs. He called us to a person: Jesus Christ.
Instead of asking what the church offers, why not ask, “What does this church believe?” If I bring my children there, will they hear truth? Does the preacher preach Christ and Him crucified? Is there love for God and people in this place? Does the church have a heart to reach the community and the world with the Gospel? Will this church help me try to keep my children out of Hell?
Sometimes, well-intentioned people will invite others to church based upon what their church can do for them. I think this is an area in which we must be careful.
Is it wrong to want your church to be involved in the community? Of course not, neither is it wrong for the church to have activities and programs. However, I think it is very wrong to market the church by saying, “Come over here; we offer “X,” “Y,” and, “Z.” I do not mean to sound crude, but we are essentially prostituting the church when we offer it like the biggest and best thing on the market.
Let us be known as a people who preach Christ, love God and people, believe sound doctrine, pray with fervency, give cheerfully, and seek to pass these truths on to the next generation and around the world.
Ask not what your church can do for you. Ask what you can do for your church.