When Samuel died, David was still on the run. Though anointed Israel’s future king, he was classified an outlaw by his in-law, Saul, the current king. Samuel’s death then was surely a blow to David’s morale; his authoritative representative and defender was dead. And so, for a time, the would-be-king lived like a fugitive, moving from place to place.
Just as there is no such thing as a churchless Christian, there’s no such thing as a cloistered one either. We are to be living in the world but not of it, not overcome by evil but overcoming evil with good. For, we who were once slaves to evil have been redeemed by the righteous, atoning sacrifice of our Savior. He of supreme virtue became sin for us that we might stand virtuously before our God and live virtuously for our Lord.
Modern Evangelicals have seemingly accomplished a miracle (Or, maybe it’s a magic trick?), something foreign to Scripture yet readily embraced: the churchless Christian. Emphasizing our desires over God’s design and our pleasure over pleasing him, we have relegated the cherished assembly of the Beloved into a consumer’s option. This not to say that God is forgotten. But with the reign of easy-believism, the individual is all-important, and the authority of the self stands sovereign. In his commentary on Romans, James Boice (writing in 1995) observes, “It strikes me…that today the problem is our individualism, which I would define as hyperpersonalized religion. It is the religion of ‘Jesus and me only.’” Boice goes onto label this phenomenon a form of narcissism, warning, “you cannot have ‘one body in Christ’ if everyone is creating a private little a la carte religion for himself.”
So, let us humbly give thanks as vessels of mercy that we who were not God’s people have become his people. Let us give thanks that in his mercy and eternal love for us, he calls us his beloved. Let us give thanks that while we did not pursue the righteousness of God, by his grace he justified us as righteous through faith. And let us give thanks that he who is a stumbling stone for many is our rock of salvation. So, let us rejoice, for “The LORD liveth; and blessed be [our] rock; and let the God of [our] salvation be exalted” (Ps. 18:46 KJV).
Trials teach. They teach us to honor and glorify God. They teach us to walk humbly before him.
And they teach us to rejoice in God’s provision. Let us be faithful to listen.
In other words, maintaining peace in the local church is not a cause to fight for but an act of worshipful service to our Triune God. As we live out our faith in Christ in the local church “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is revealed.
In Christ’s church, he gifts and uses those called to his service but never for their glory. It is not without significance that even the title “minister” is derived from the word meaning “servant.” For, in the body of Christ, we are all called to serve in Christ: “There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6).
Jesus is in his perfect life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection, greatness defined. We look to him in faith to be saved from our sin and death. And, as Christians, we look to him, through the help of his indwelling Spirit, to live lives of Christ-like greatness, in humble submission, willing sacrifice, and serving others.
In other words, the need of all people, is met in compassion for all people (namely the gospel of Jesus Christ), that God may receive praise from all people. The gospel is an invitation to come and praise the Lord forever. Let all the people sing!
So, we come not to Christ with our birthrights, upbringings, pedigrees; we bring not our achievements, our deeds, our badges of merit. No, we come like dogs to the table, needy yet hopeful and find that the Master of the house is our heavenly Father.