Where This Church Can Go
Each new year brings a chance to begin again and do things differently, if need be. It is as John R. Rice has said, “No matter what a man’s past may have been, his future is spotless.”
To aid in this New Year process, we make “resolutions” we plan to keep in the coming year. We seldom keep these resolutions. This church, however, should make some resolutions we really intend to keep.
Let’s examine these resolutions.
We Can Be Unified
The Scriptures exhort Christians to be unified. We need to speak the same thing and have no divisions (1 Cor. 1:10). We are to be “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:2). Paul encouraged Euodia and Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord (Phil. 4:2).
We can accomplish so much more if we are unified. If we aren’t unified, the community will have reason to talk. Imagine the glee in both the secular and denominational world if we were having problems here. If we stood in the parking lot and fought and then some of us left to go somewhere else, this community would have the time of its life.
Groups obviously accomplish more when they are unified. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln paraphrased Jesus, and said, concerning this nation, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Imagine a basketball team that couldn’t get along with itself. The players, instead of working with each other, would be working against each other-The same thing happens when we fight as a church.
There is absolutely no room in the church for fighting amongst one another. So many churches fight over things that don’t matter: How many songs should we have before the sermon?; What color should the carpet be? We need to be focused on Jesus, and then many things won’t matter.
We Can Stand Behind Our Leaders
The Bible teaches us to support our elders. Those elders who rule well are considered worthy of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17). “Double honor” refers to paying elders-in the first century, many churches paid their elders so they could give themselves full-time to that task. But, even those elders who don’t rule well are worthy of honor. That is the implication of “double honor”-all elders are worthy of some honor, and those who rule well are worthy of even more honor. We are to honor those who serve as elders.
An accusation cannot be accepted against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses (1 Tim. 5: 19). If someone tells us an elder is drinking, we can’t accept that accusation with just one witness. This shows that elders deserve respect.
We should esteem our elders “very highly in love” (1 Thess. 5:13).
We are to obey our elders (Heb. 13:17). We are not asked to agree with our elders. We must, however, do what they ask.
Let us support our elders by: praying for them, doing what they ask, and not criticizing them.
Are we honoring our elders?
We Can Oppose What is Wrong
God’s people cannot take sin lightly-we must oppose sin. We are to “abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Ro. 12:9). Those who love the LORD must hate evil (Ps. 97:10).
We are to purge sin from our number (1 Cor. 5:6-7). In Corinth, a man was living with his stepmother, his father’s wife. Paul told the church to get rid of the adulterer. The church could not tolerate adultery among its members. Some churches turn a blind eye when someone is involved in sin. Are we opposing what is wrong?
We Can Stand for Scripture
We must believe and practice every word of Scripture. Scripture deserves our respect. It is the very word of God. It is our pathway to heaven. The Scriptures have been respected through the years. When Ezra read the Law before the people, the people were attentive to the Law (Neh. 8:3). When the book was opened in front of the people, the people stood (Neh. 8:5).
The Scripture cannot be broken (Jn. 10:35). Only those who do the will of God will enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 7:21).
Scripture must be what we practice. Is Scripture what we practice?
We Can Set Good Examples
Those in the community must see Jesus living in us. We are to let our lights shine before men (Mt. 5:13-16). Our conduct is to be honorable among non-believers (1 Pet. 2:12).
We can do great harm to the church by failing to heed these admonitions. Those in the community will have every right to accuse us of being hypocrites-The names Jimmy Swaggert and Jim Baker are synonymous with hypocrisy. Those in this community will have every right to refuse wanting to be members of this congregation.
We Can Give Liberally of Our Means
Preaching concerning giving is an unpopular subject. I have heard brethren say things like, “If the preacher preaches concerning giving, I’m leaving.” This attitude shows a lack of respect for God’s word.
Giving is a biblical injunction. On the first day of the week, we are to give as we’ve prospered (1 Cor. 16:1-2). God will bless those of us who give liberally (2 Cor. 9:6-7). Jesus told us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
We must give, because: Scripture teaches us to give, not giving harms the work of the church, and how much we give tells us what’s important in our life (Mt. 6:19-21).
We can accomplish much in this coming year.
We have opportunities to honor God. Are you honoring God?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.