My Church My Love
Sermon notes on October 8, 1995 our church 5th anniversary
Translated by Vivian Chan
March on, my soul; be strong! (Judges 5:21)
the year 1995
Last night we discussed about loving the Lord; it is essential that we love our Lord with pure, passionate and sacrificial love. To love God we must also love the church, because God is the head of church and the church is the body of Christ. There are “structured” and “non-structured” churches. The non-structured church includes all the people in history who were saved; the structured church describes those who meet in a specific place to worship together with brothers and sisters, to study God’s Word, to fellowship with each other and to be a witness of God and to bring people to God. This is a physical church one can see and touch. Do we love the structured
church or the non-structured church? Someone may claim to love all churches and view them all the same and would attend a different church every week. Unfortunately for those who don’t settle at one church, it means that they do not have a spiritual home where they truly belong. We must commit to a structured church. God leads us to a particular church, and we should settle in order to listen to the gospel, accept Christ as personal savior, be built up by the truth, fellowship with the body of Christ and serve God together. To love the church is to love this spiritual and structured home. How do we love our church? We can explore this in 5 ways:
(1) Always be in my Father’s house (Luke 2: 49)
This passage talks about Jesus visiting the temple for the first time at age 12. He didn’t return to Nazareth with his parents and stayed at the temple to listen and to ask questions. When his parents came back and found Jesus, his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Jesus replied, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus used the temple as an analogy to describe his father’s house, and that he should always be in his Father’s house. In the language of today’s Christians, the church is our home. How should we love this home? Firstly, we should always be in our Father’s house. We should try our best to attend church gatherings; in addition to attending Sunday service, we should also attend fellowships, Sunday school, prayer meetings, revival meetings, retreats and all other church activities. Everyone’s presence matters. We can feel the warmth and encouragement when all come and gather together. Simply by attending a gathering means we’re serving God; it’s a positive encouragement for the guest speaker and for everyone else who organized the event; worship in itself is serving God.
We need to be in our Father’s house, but it isn’t just about attending activities, it also means growing together with the church. Where have you been in the church’s ebbs and flows? Where have you been when the church experienced challenges, attacks, laughter and tears? It’s crucial that we all grow, struggle, fight, laugh and cry together in church. Despite all circumstances, you need to always be in the Father’s house, no backing out. If you love the church of God, you must first always be in the Father’s house.
(2) Always be about my Father’s business
Jesus said, “Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” We need to show care about our Father’s business; that’s the first step and it’s also a foundational step. We don’t serve God out of our own desire, and it shouldn’t be dependent on our mood of the day either. We should always remember about the Father’s business, meditate, pray and plan for things related to church.
Prof. Yi-Ling Liu(劉翼凌1901-1994), was a pioneer of Chinese Christian writings. He started “Light House” & “Cosmic Light” magazines. He was commissioned by Commander Jiang to India as Taiwan’s commissioner. He was given these 8 words when he was sent: : “Put your heart to things and these things will be in your heart.” If anyone could truly live this out, they will succeed in all that they do. This is the attitude Mr. Liu used in serving God.
You receive an assignment before God, if you think about the task at hand all the time, patiently wait for God’s timing, and pray; for sure you’ll do very well on it. If you were to teach a Sunday school class, you should first read the passage and let God’s words work in your heart. Refrain from reading other materials, but meditate on God’s Word alone. You then find other resources and, prepare and study. When you put your heart to do things and let these things sit in your heart, you shall succeed in being a great Sunday school teacher.
(3) Love one another (John 13: 34-35, 1 John 5:1)
We are all children of God who belong to God’s house as part of his body and are chosen to be in a particular church. We love our church and therefore should love brothers and sisters. Church is not just the physical building; it’s a group of people saved by grace and gathered together to worship, to fellowship and to be a witness for God. If we claim to love the church, we must love brothers and sisters. We have different gifts, talents, experiences and ways of doing things, but if we don’t have the heart to love our brothers and sisters, our church will not be blessed. We are all different in our backgrounds, education levels, personalities and careers. It’s definitely not easy to get along; there may be conflicts as we try to do our best for God. If we love one another and accept one another’s differences and practice forgiveness, all problems shall be resolved.
In a typical home, some people work harder and some are more laid back; some people are more organized and some are less detail-oriented. Conflicts can easily arise when these people live together and become each other’s burdens. Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens”, or else conflicts will arise. Brothers and sisters, we need to carry each other’s burdens as a family, or else conflicts will arise. If we love our church, we shall carry each other’s burdens.
(4) To fill God’s house with food (Malachi 3: 8-10)
This passage talks about the truth of tithing. In an agricultural society, food is a basic need of all. “To fill God’s house with food” means it’s the basic need of the church. Believers should tithe and the church shall not be in debt and will have what’s needed for outreach and other ministries.
Some people claim that the Old Testament only applies to the Jews, and that there is no tithing explained in the New Testament. I personally think this is just an excuse for those who refuse to tithe, for those who make offerings willingly would not even consider tithing from that perspective. It is true that there’s no explicit passages talking about tithing in the New Testament, but there isn’t any evidence dismissing the need to tithe. Matthew 23 is not dismissing tithing. This was directed at the Pharisees who were doing things in front of certain people to get approval and ignoring the important things that they should do.
In addition to tithing in Old Testament, people also made other types of offerings. For all those who loved God but realized they had sinned against God, it was required that they bring their guilt offering to God immediately, whether they were rich or poor. Under the New Testament, believers are redeemed through the precious blood of Christ once and for all. Although we continue to sin, a guilt offering is no longer required of us; instead we must repent before God and ask for forgiveness. We are never asked to offer money as a guilt offering. We are so blessed to be Christians in today’s time.
If tithing was required in Old Testament, shouldn’t believers in the New Testament be offering more than one tenth? For those who refuse to offer will use this as an excuse, but for those who truly love God, they would never agree with such an argument. Tithing is a basic requirement for believers in the New Testament. If we claim to love God but refuse to tithe, that shows our love for God is very limited. If all brothers and sisters in the church give a tithe, the church shall not be in need. The believers should be ashamed if the church is ever in need financially, and it’s also bringing shame on our God. If we truly love our church, we shall fill our church with abundance in order to glorify our God. If we love our Lord, we should be obedient in tithing.
(5) Be faithful in God’s house (Hebrews 3: 1-2)
Moses’ whole family was faithful to God; Jesus was also faithful in establishing God’s kingdom on earth. Relatively speaking, Jesus received greater glory than Moses. Being faithful doesn’t merely apply to the work you do, it’s also applicable to being faithful in your spiritual home, that is our church. If we’re faithful to church, we will notice many positive things in it, for example: love, witness, caring, the power of prayer, passion, growth, etc… As we notice these good things, we would like to keep them going stronger and stronger. Unfortunately, the longer we stay at a church, the more imperfections we see. How do you respond as you notice these imperfections? The primary attitude we should have is to ask God carefully and humbly: “Am I seeing what is true, or could the reality be different from what I thought?”
One Sunday, a lady who has not been attending her church for many weeks finally came. She felt very disappointed to see everyone else was late for church and started to criticize. She did not realize that the meeting time was changed. The announcement was made many times, and notice was sent to all members. She did not even read the notice that was sent to her. This lady should come before God to reflect, “Why didn’t I care about the church?” If we notice things have gone wrong at church, we should always come before God and reflect with a humble heart and to ask whether what I am seeing is true or not.
If it’s true, we should proceed to the second question for ourselves, “Dear Lord, does this problem stem from my own carelessness or negligence?” Some people think church never starts on time and is not very organized, but these people fail to notice that they’re one of those who arrive late all the time. These people should first deal with their own tardiness, and perhaps aim to arrive ten minutes early the next week so that they can have some quiet time to pray as they wait.
There might be times where you may not be part of the problem. If that’s the case it would be necessary to inform those who are in charge and let them take care of the matter. It’s not helpful to gossip behind the back and be extra careful not to gossip in front of non-believers or non-church members. If there are disagreements in the deacon board, do not speak outside of the deacon board. If you remain quiet in the meeting and choose to talk about matters outside of the meeting, it will create huge damage to the church.
If we love the church, we need to be faithful to the church and guard the reputation of the church. We must admit that there are flaws in church, but we need to do our best in making positive changes and to aim for a better outcome so that we can be blessed and glorify God.
Rev Luke Liu conducted our 5th anniversary baptism and was our speaker in Summer Camp 2004 May. We are privileged to participate for a few years in Rev & Mrs Liu’s training ministry to Chinese church workers. Rev Liu retired in 2010 and has been taking care of his wife. They now stay in Milpitas, CA.