God, Our Father - the Church, Our Mother
Yesterday the youth group at Kenefick Southern Baptist Church shared about their experiences at youth camp. All of our youth who spoke mentioned things that were helpful to the congregation. One young lady read Psalm 142 where King David cries out to God for deliverance. Her testimony was encouraging as she mentioned the things she learned not only from the solid teaching of the Word of God, but the gospel fellowship that resulted as the youth and their counselors engaged in discussions at the various activities and even during the down time at camp.
Another young lady who has a burden to help her friends who are struggling with various problems shared that her time away from social media. Before she left for camp she shared advice based on God's Word as to what should be done and then had to leave her friends in God's hands. God was faithful to apply the Word and work positive changes in the lives of these friends. This is a lesson that all of us need to learn. Jesus is the only Savior and we are not.
Today I was reading my TableTalk devotional magazine that arrived at the church office today. I was reading R.C. Sproule, Jr's article Everyone Is a Churchman, and was challenged by the follwing statement: In our day we may know our Father in heaven, but we have forgotten our mother, the church. In Ephesians 5:25-27, we read that our Lord Jesus is our groom and the church is His bride. Sproule's analogy of the church as our mother and the Apostle Paul's description of the church as the Bride provide us with some helpful pictures of what it means to be in the church. The Church is not perfect. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are perfect. Our Triune God desires for us to support the church and love it. I noticed that all of the youth who spoke in the testimony time mentioned the blessedness and helpfulness of connecting with each other. None of them used the term gospel fellowship, but that is what they were describing - a fellowship that is not simply based on hanging out together, but that is based on pointing each other to the love and mercy of God as revealed in the gospel. Such fellowship will encourage us when life gets hard, when we are persecuted, when we are ill and when we struggle.
Sadly, I see a trend in the American church and even in my own community where many are forsaking the glorious opportunities to enjoy gospel fellowship weekly. Many today profess to know their Heavenly Father but seem very indifferent to their spiritual Mother. They claim to love the Groom, the Lord Jesus, but have become very frustrated with Jesus' bride, the church. God the Spirit is perfecting each believer in the church. Some believers are farther along in their walk than others. We all need to be patient with one another, pray for each other, and have an attitude of humility. We may be one of those who has studied hard and who prays a lot. We may feel close to God, but we must not let our advancement in the faith cause us to become weary of loving the church. We must also persevere and determine to not let the business of our present day and time keep us from worshipping with God's people on the Lord's Day.
Fellow believer, I need you and you need me. Let's follow the example of these dear youth and appreciate the gospel fellowship that is available in the church. Some have described the church as the Old Ship of Zion. It has leaks and sometimes looked worn and battered, but she is God's church, His precious bride. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV)