Text: Ephesians 2:19-22 January 15, 2012.
1) Look for a perfect fit church: People who are rigid on finding perfect fit clothing complain like this: Too long or too short; too large or too small. Either it is too loose or too tight, or too dark or too bright. Finding that perfect fit seems impossible. Finding a church that is a “perfect fit” poses similar problem for some people. To them, every church has something that is not quite right. Either the people are too friendly or too cold. The music is too loud or the temp is too low. The preaching is too long or Bible teaching is too dull. The program, doctrine and style make them uncomfortable or we just don’t feel fit in at all.
2) Look for perfect fit Christians: Instead of providing perfect fit churches for His people, God is looking for perfect fit people to fit in any church He leads them to. In His church, God wants all His people to fit well with one another so they can build up each other to become a dwelling place in which God lives. (Eph. 2:22) God made us all different in sizes and shapes like Lego blocks, so when we follow the instruction provided in the Bible, we will be perfectly fitted together in the same mind and same judgment. (1 Cor. 1:10) No church may fit all people, but if we are humble to follow God’s lead, we will feel fit in any church.
BIBLICAL CHURCH FITTING:
1) Churches need to fit Christ: The Bible describes church as the bride of Christ, (Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 19:7-9) making herself fit and ready for the coming of Christ. Christ is the founder of the church, the cornerstone of the church, the redeemer of the church and the head of the church. Therefore, before we try to make the church fit for people, any people, we need to make sure all churches must be built, sustained and function to fit the command of Christ and God the Father. Anytime any church puts people before God, no matter how much that church tries to fit the desires of the people, it fails to be called as a church. Fitting the command of God supercedes the desires of man.
2) Churches need to fit the Bible: Although churches are built for people, but they are not of the people and are not purposed to fit what people want or how people run the churches. After Jesus went to heaven to be with God, the Father, He left two agents to be with his church: the Holy Spirit and the Bible. The Holy Spirit resides in the hearts of believers to direct and correct their lives while the Bible was given to guide the life of the body of Christ, the church. All churches claim to be the body of Christ MUST study, know and obey the Bible.
3) Churches needs to fit the mission: Three purposes God has for the church: for worshipping God, fellowship of God’s people and spreading the gospel for the lost world. Most churches are good in the first two but some are not as good in the last one: to save the souls of the lost world though mission endeavor. For the expansion of God’s kingdom, mission is the only way to achieve the goal. Anytime, when a church spends most of her manpower and resources caters to the needs of her own people, it becomes a crippling church that is not doing what Christ commissioned the church to do. (Matt 28:19-20)
MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME:
1) Stop that foreigner feeling: “Consequently you are no longer foreigners or aliens.” (2:19a) When you visit a new church, you are a guest to that church. That is why we ask that you fill-up a GUEST form so we may get to know you a little for further contacts. But if you continue to participate in activities of that church on a regular basis or have joined the church through baptism or transfer of membership, then you need to stop that “guest” feeling because you are no longer a guest any more. Guests to a country as foreigners or aliens from other countries do not belong to the country where one lives. They do not have the rights and privilege of the citizens, and are not responsible for the well being of the country. In order for you to feel Fit-in, you need to stop that “guest, foreigner or alien” feeling. As long as you still feel “guest” or “not belong, you will not feel fit in that church.
2) Start to feel and act like citizens: “You are no longer foreigners or aliens but fellow citizens with God’s people.” (2:19:b) When you feel like foreigners or aliens, you don’t feel belong and you don’t want to participate in anything of the nation. Same thing happens to you when you are a guest of a church. But when you become a member of the church, you feel you are a part of the church, like a citizen to a nation where you belong. Then you are part of the local body of Christ, His church. The good, the need-to-improve, the growth or the well being of the church becomes part of your responsibility. You are no longer a guest looking at the church from outside, but a member looking at it from the inside: a complete sense on belonging is important.
3) Enjoy the privilege of family: “You are no longer foreigners or aliens, but fellow citizen with God’s people and member of God’s household.” (2:19) A household is a family people with blood relationship and life long commitment. When Christians assemble as a church, they are members of God’s family with spiritual life connection for the well being of common purpose. How to feel “fit-in” depends on if you still feeling like aliens or foreigners or like citizens and members of God’s family. When God leads you to become part of a church, you are to feel fit-in as family members and citizens of God’s church.
STEPS TO PERFECT-FIT IN A CHURCH:
1) Be built on correct foundation: “(Be) built on the foundation of apostles and prophets.” (2:20a) “Foundation” means the “base”, and the “apostles and prophets” represent the messengers and writers of God’s word to His people and to the world which we call the Bible today. Most people don’t feel fit in a church because they build their foundation on themselves, their like and dislike, their standard and ideas, their feeling and tastes. If they don’t like it, don’t feel good about it, they won’t fit in. But God wants us to build our spiritual relationship with a church base on the teaching of the Bible: what does the Bible say about this church? What does the Bible say about how should I fit in that church? What does the Bible say what should I look for in a church? Often times, we are not built on the Bible when we try to fit in a church.
2) Focus on correct loyalty: “With Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (2:20b) Some Christians build their loyalty to a church because of the name, size and money of a church. Others attach to a church because of a famous pastor who make them feel good in his preaching. Still others who stick with a church because their family or friends are there. But the Bible says we should fit-in to a church because Christ is the chief cornerstone of that church: Christ is exalted, in charge of all aspects of the church, the supreme authority of church. When we focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, we are serving Him, not anyone else. On the personal side, we should build our life in the Lord, for the Lord and dedicated only to the Lord.
3) Fit-in for the highest goal: “In Him the whole building is joined (or fitted) together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (2:21-22) Even with legitimate personal reasons to join and fit in a church, the true and highest goal for all of us is the build a church into a temple for our Lord Jesus Christ in which He lives in His Holy Spirit. No one in any church is to build his/her own little kingdom, a dynasty, something for his name or legacy so generation may remember him of pay tribute to him like secular organizations. We are in business of building a temple of God where all people may come, worship, learn, get saved and fellowship.
1) The choice is not yours: We are so used to the slogan: The Choice is Yours in commercial or advertising. But in choosing and fitting in a “perfect church”, we don’t have the right to choose. We need to submit our “freedom of choice” to the direction of God from the principles set in His word, the Bible. There is no perfect church and there is no perfect Christian. Instead of following our own heart, we need to follow the heart of God.
2) Church is as good as her people: Churches are made of people and they are as good as the people in them. If we are looking for a perfect church to join, we better to be perfect Christians to make the churches perfect. When the people are perfect, the church will be perfect. So, before we look for a perfect church, let’s do better to be perfect Christians.
3) Not for saints but sinners: Jesus built the church not for saints but for forgiven sinners. Jesus came to the world to die on the cross so sinners may find forgiveness of sins and receive from him eternal life. The church is God’s house on earth to bring all sinners to repentance and salvation by faith. That is why you are here today. Call upon the name of Jesus and be saved today.