|THE CHURCH’S PROBLEM MEMBERS|
THE CHURCH’S PROBLEM MEMBERS
The church, or body of Christ, Is composed of many members as stated by Paul in I Cor. 12:27, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” We are all members of this spiritual body; just as our physical body has many members, so does the church. With each member doing his part, the church can grow. See Eph. 4:16. But, as we all know some do not do their part, leaving a problem for the church. I should like to notice some of these problems. I do not expect to notice them all; however, I shall endeavor to consider some of the more prominent ones.
The Problem of Unconverted Members.
We read in John 6:66: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” We can see that this was a problem from the first. The Master taught us in Lk. 13:3, “I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” One then must repent or turn from the world and live for the Lord, lest he perish. This kind of member was also a problem in the life of Paul, as we read in I1 Tim. 4:16, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” Here, he is speaking of being on trial and those whom he had held as his friends had forsaken him at a time when he needed them most. This should encourage us today; as friends of the Lord, when life becomes difficult for us, let us not do as Paul’s friends, but stay by the Lord. A good motto is: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
The Worldly Member-
We read in James 4:4, ‘Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James refers to them as “adulterers and adulteresses,” including spiritual adultery, by having excessive attachment to the things of the world. As Christianity is a sacrificing religion, this would be that state of worldly mindedness which will make no sacrifice for religion. It is true that most would profess to be children of God if this were not true. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God;” enmity means hatred, or whatever .is opposite to love. As the world is arrayed against God and refuses to submit to Him, those who love the world are against Him. “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God;” enemy is an adversary, one opposed to the Most High, as those who become friends of the world are opposed to God, and His word. This, of course, is done of ourselves when we disobey His commands and yoke ourselves with the world. Notice the example of Demas, 1 Tim. 4:10, “For Demas hath forsaken me having loved this present world . . .” We read in Ex. 32:9, “And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.” So, we can see this problem is not a new one, as these were stubborn, unyielding, or “stiffnecked.” Let us return to our Maker and cling only to Him. “. . . Ye cannot serve God and Mammon” (Matt. 6 24).
The Compromising Member –
Read II John 9-11. Those who do not abide in this “Doctrine of Christ,” we are not to receive into our house. I understand the church to be the House of God. We are not to receive them as a brother. Of course, this does not mean that we are to bolt the door to keep them out; we are not to allow them to teach their doctrine. Neither are we to bid them God’s speed, as he who would encourage or support anyone in this false doctrine would be just as guilty as the one actually in error. Paul warns us that false brethren unawares will come in to spy out our liberty. Read Gal. 2:4. Let us be ever alert!
The Lazy Member-
We are to study God‘s word, I1 Tim. 2:15. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God . . .” By studying, we are able to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us. Read I Pet. 3:15. I do not believe this means that we will be able to answer any and all Bible questions, but that we all should be ready to answer every man concerning the hope which we all have. This is to be done in the right spirit “with meekness and fear.” Jesus taught us the works that one must do. Read Matt. 25:34-40. We should all strive to do all of these as often as they are needed. Notice, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.” James 1:22 reads: “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”-not a hearer only, but a doer.
The Contented Member-
The gospel, being the power of God unto salvation, Rom. 19:6, and being given to all men, Tit. 2:21, it is our duty to make it known to all the world. Mk. 16:15: “GO ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Matt. 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . .” Those who have supported the work in Africa and other fields are to be commended; it would be impossible for everyone to go, so by sending those who can go, we are just as much a part of the work.
The Problem of “Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians.”
Many troubles arise in the local church today because we do not have the proper leadership. The church is to have elders to watch over the flock. Read I Pet. 5:1-4. They are not as lords but overseers, to take charge and to keep out the bitter foes. More of the men, especially the younger, should prepare for the office of a bishop, I Tim. 3:l-7. The question arises, what congregations which have no elders, such as those just starting, etc.? Often we make the mistake of helping a church get started, and then fail to provide the leadership needed. They struggle along never growing, with no interest, except for a few days a year during a gospel meeting or something of that nature. Is the Lord pleased with this? Paul wrote to Titus in Tit. 1:5: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city, as I have appointed thee:”-someone to care for and protect until the elders are appointed. This would take more time and more effort, but in the long run, would it not be better? May all of us be less, of a problem?