Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord , meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalms 1:1-3 NLT
God never designed for His people to be unfruitful. He desired for us to bear fruit and in order to bear fruit you have to be planted and attached to the Vine. One of the things I see often is believers who go from one church to another. They like this program in one church and another program at another church. Weekly they may go to two or more churches – consistently. They are connected to the Vine – they love God, but they are not planted anywhere for growth.
I understand doing this when you are a new believer and need to find where you belong. I even believe there are times where you go somewhere to support a specific thing – like a revival or a family member making a declaration or other special program. I am not saying there aren’t times that I go to other places – when my niece was baptized and when my adult daughter was re-baptized I went to their churches in support. When a friend invited me to a revival service at her church I attended. When children invited me to see a special presentation they were putting on, I went. When I am traveling out-of-town, I typically attend service wherever I find myself. I realize that we are all part of The Church, but I am planted in a church body that God called me too.
There are many members, but one body. I think that is true of the local church as well as The Church. In The Church, different congregations are called to minister in different manners to different populations in their city, region, state, nation and the world. That mission is tied to the vision of the local church. When you are divided between visions, it will fail.
I live in the “Bible Belt” and there are some towns that have a church on every corner, and sometimes four on the corner of one block! A church can not be effective in carrying out its mission if it doesn’t know it’s true resources – financially, physically and spiritually. Each church is made up of individual members with individual talents and gifts, that are needed to carry out it’s vision and purpose.
Although we are all One Body, the Body of Christ, we each have a different purpose and as a church a collective purpose. Suppose the congregation I usually belong to makes up a knee. Knees are important parts of the body. It has three bones that meet to create it. It has articular cartilage on each bone, two wedge-shaped pieces of meniscal cartilage, the medial collateral ligament, the lateral collateral ligament, the cruciate ligaments, the quadriceps tendon and the patellar tendon. Then of course there are muscles, veins, skin, etc.
If each part is not present and working at capacity then there are problems with walking which eventually impacts the whole body. If the cartilage is missing one week, it might be painful but you could manage knowing it will be back the next week. But if it is gone every other week eventually the wearing on the bones creates a major problem that usually requires surgery. This is a picture of what happens when people are not planted.
We are called to a body to strengthen and encourage each other. When we fail to do our part, even if we don’t think it is a big part because we are not the pastor, praise and worship team or even greeter, it impacts the body. We each have a role to play, even if it is just to welcome your neighbor and say “amen” to what the pastor is preaching about. See it’s not about the gifts to God, it is about the fruit. The church needs your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In those areas where you find yourself lacking, you can be encouraged by someone else who is lacking in another area but strong where you are weak.
We prosper where we are planted. A tree uprooted will eventually die if it is not able to get nutrients from the soil. The local church is where we draw crucial nutrients from – not our sole source, but in part. Where we are planted is where we grow. Not that we don’t face dry spells, or go through trials – we will. But together we weather the storms. We bear fruit seasonally, not continually. We stay connected to each other and connected to God. We grow stronger as we meditate on His word. Our roots grow deeper as we go deeper with Him. There may be times that we are uprooted and planted somewhere else, but it will be an occasional thing not a regular thing because God called us to be planted.
This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth. 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.