Because of new health insurance guidelines, I was required to change physicians. Today, after visiting one of our beloved golden members in the hospital, I made my way to a doctors visit of my own - a new patient visit to establish my newly chosen, insurance-accepted doctor. This office visit was the longest and most extensive one I have ever had. No stone was left unturned in my life as my new family physician asked question after question and did exam after exam, seeking to understand my health condition.
Why would this doctor do such an extensive exam? Besides the fact that she gets paid by the length and type of visit, my thorough new medical doctor wanted to best understand my health so that she can help me. "Help me do what?" you may ask. She wants to help me maintain the areas of my life that are healthy and improve the ones that are not as healthy.
Our lives as Christians should involve the same kind of assessing, the same kind of questioning, the same kind of probing. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers in 2 Corinthians 13: 5 - Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
As followers of Christ, we read the Bible to learn His will and His ways. In His inspired Word, The Lord reveals to us our areas of health and lack thereof. By His Spirit, He strengthens and maintains the places where we are excelling. By His Spirit, He reveals to us areas in which we are unhealthy spiritually. By His Spirit, He removes areas of spiritual sickness from us. The Great Physician is gracious to do this for us on an individual level.
BUT, The Lord also does this for us on a local church level. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, The Lord teaches and shows how He works among His people collectively. He brought the children of Israel out of slavery - as a group. He punished them for disobedience - as a group. He filled the believers at Pentecost with His Spirit - as a group. AND, He works among as, besides as individuals, AS A GROUP.
God's work in His Spirit-filled group, the Church, is very similar to the way in which He works in individuals. He works primarily through His Word. In the local church setting, this takes place through a variety of ministries, each led by gifted leaders under the leadership of the local church overseer, or pastor. God's Word is preached from the pulpit, and people are offered the opportunity to accept or reject it in their everyday lives and in the life and leadership of the church. God's Word is taught from the ECL class, and the classmates have a chance to receive or reject it. God's Word is explained to the children and youth, and the children are responsible, under the shepherding of their parents, to learn and grow by it. God's Word is proclaimed through song, and the people either believe and embrace what is sung or reject it. Through each of these venues, as well as the proclamation of the Gospel by members among their circles of influence in everyday life, exams are taking place. Isaiah 55: 11 says, "so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth, it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." God purposes by His Word, among other things, to cause you and I to examine our hearts to see if the people that we are, the way that we are living is honoring of Christ. This not only includes our everyday lives, but the corporate life of our church. There is a way we are to live in this world to the glory of The Lord. The is a way we are to do church in this world to the glory of The Lord.
Let us examine ourselves to see if we be in Christ. Are you living a healthy Christian life, not according to comparison with your neighbor, but to the standard of God found in His Holy Word? Are we being faithful to The Lord in our way of doing church, not by comparison with other churches, but in light of what Scripture teaches a church is to be?