Following Jesus means committing our life to be a member of a local church

Why does following Jesus include being a part of the church?

1/ Jesus commands His followers to become best friends

John 13:34-35 (NLT) “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 15:12-14 (NLT) “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14  You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Just before Jesus was taken to be tried and killed he met with His 12 apostles and gave them final instructions. He made sure they understood his new commandment was to lay down their lives for each other to prove their love for Him. Our friendship with Christ is solely determined by our obedience to what He tells us to do. Choosing to become best friends with fellow Christians inside our local church is not an option, but a direct order.

The world will only see the value of the church by seeing the love between those who follow Jesus.

As He says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” The power of our friendship screams to the world we are not normal but enveloped in a powerful supernatural love. The visual reality of a life-changing culture proves to the world that we are Christians. This is the power of our witness!

2/ Jesus makes His followers unite into teams so that the world will believe

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” John 17:20-21 (NLT)

Not just the first century but all who ever will believe must unite and work together like our 3 in 1 God. Local disciples follow Jesus and band together in a community of best friends called the local church.

Our Lord also commands us to join the local church and work together even as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit unite together to accomplish the will of the Father. We do not just sing songs and listen to a sermon, instead we must choose to unite in friendship and join the team in ministry and mission. We have a calling and a place that God wants us to join in the BODY OF CHRIST.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NLT)

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2  Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

Only friends love each other enough to stick together. The greatest hindrance in churches is people who cannot get along with each other. We all must follow Jesus and chose submission instead of forcing our will on others, reject conflict and be gentle with people. Overlooking those pain in the neck people you don’t like is wrong, you are required to not ignore them or resist them. We must find a way to befriend them and make every effort to keep ourselves united. This is not a noble thing it is the narrow way of Jesus. This is the love the world will marvel at. This is the love Christ commands, so we have no excuses if we say we are following Jesus. He showed love to Judas Iscariot even though He knew he was the traitor.

Jesus raises up leaders to serve and help all disciples unify into teams and grow in all areas of their lives so that they will rise up as disciples and make disciples.

Ephesians 4:11-12,16 (NLT)

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ… He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

You can tell a leader by the focus they have of helping disciples become greater servants of Jesus.

Friendship, the loving best friend type of love, is the command of Christ for you and our church. We are called to do HIS work and BUILD UP the others inside our church team. The only way we will be able to succeed is through each of us stepping forward and volunteering to help each other.

So where do you fit in?

3/ Jesus commands us to show love for each other by helping each other

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLT) Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.

Mark 10:42-45 (NLT)

“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43  But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44  and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus prizes helping others as the highest form of following Him. It does not matter if you are shy, a private person, or just a plain loner all those excuses are no longer valid.  Serving others inside our church is a must. Trust Him, obey Him, and serve Him by loving one another.

When you find “one another” in the New Testament it is God’s direction of how to love and serve others.

01/ Love one another [John 13:34,35; 15:12,17] “God is love” [I John 4:8]

02/ Have peace with one another [Mark 9:50] When we choose not to fight with each other but keep the peace we obey God and love our brothers.

03/ Be kindly affectionate to one another  [Romans 12:10] As emotionally fond of your natural family [children, parents, etc.], have the same unflinching love to the church family.

04/ Prefer to give honor to one another [Romans 12:10] Really consider the other Christian more valuable than yourself. What they think and want is more important than what you think and want.

05/ Agree to have compassion on one another [Romans 12:14-16; 1 Peter 3:8] Decide to merge yourself into the lives of your brothers so that you can weep right along with your hurting Christian brother and also truly be excited and happy with them in their triumphs and victories.

06/ Accept one another just like Christ accepted us [Romans 15:7] Accept into your inner circle of friends all believers and give them hospitality and care.

07/ Admonish (caution and warn) one another [Romans 15:14; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; ] Just like any member of your immediate family [children, brothers and sisters, etc.] caution and warn them when you see them doing wrong or erring in judgment.

08/ Greet (embrace, hug) one another [Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Peter 5:14] Care as much for a Christian as your own family member and show it.

09/ Have the same anxious concern (care) for one another with no division (no clicks) [1 Corinthians 12:25,26] Be as anxious for the health and well being of your fellow Christian as you do for your own wife, kids, or brother and sister.

10/ Serve one another (be a slave) [Galatians 5:13] Make yourself available to each believer helping them as you are able, filling in the gaps and weaknesses they have with your abilities and talents.

11/ Bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13; James 5:9) Suffer without complaint, bear with the irritations that your fellow believers carelessly rub against you.

12/ Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32; James 4:11) Be easy and soft in attitude and action to all Christians in the church.

13/ Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) Grant your Christian brother a favor by delivering them from their wrong doing toward you and forgetting about it.

14/ Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5) Intentionally subordinate yourself under your authorities. Obey your pastor’s leadership. Follow and submit to your ministry team leader’s directions.

15/ Tell the truth to one another (Colossians 3:9) Be completely truthful to each other and do not try to deceive or hide the facts.

16/ Teach one another (Colossians 3:16) In any caring community of people, becoming humble teachers by example and experience benefit all by helping everyone excel. Just like parents teach their children to become mature, everyone must love God enough to become wise teachers and love each other enough to help each member of the church grow and mature.

17/ Comfort [exhort] one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18; Hebrews 3:13; 10:25) This word is from the same Greek term used of the Holy Spirit, we must come alongside each other to invite, invoke and cause each other to desire God’s will and the hope of heaven. We must beseech everyone to obey and trust Christ through our everyday struggles. We must become like individual coaches coming alongside our friends to help them achieve victory over sins, problems, etc. Through it all we can still be overcomers!

18/ Edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Like a house builder we must construct each other’s spiritual faith, in other words, we must build each other up in the faith. We are to confirm the truth of what God teaches and strengthen, not weaken our brothers into spiritual leaders and complete [mature] disciples.

19/ Consider one another—to stir them for good works (Hebrews 10:24) We must observe and watch carefully the spiritual progress of each other and prod and incite the disciples of Jesus to be doers of good works not just critics and talkers.

20/ Confess to one another (James 5:16) Openly acknowledge your weaknesses and sins to each other for the sake of needed support and prayer. Overwhelming problems demand the hands of many.

21/ Pray for one another (James 5:16) Only by crying out to God for deliverance and grace can anyone overcome bondages and spiritual blindness.

22/ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9) Change your attitude from isolationism to an open door policy. Without murmuring invite the church members over to your house and show them the same friendship you show your immediate family.

23/ Minister your grace gift to one another (1 Peter 4:10) Like a slave, discover your grace gift [Romans 12], and put yourself to work serving your fellow believers in the church. For example, if you are a servant, help clean the church without grumbling. Set the rest of the body free to serve you with their special abilities. Don’t make them feel sorry for you! This actually means to become deacon-like [slave-like] with your gift and do all the menial tasks that are attached with your gift to show endless love to your church family while you glorify God by laying down your life for them.

24/.Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19) As we obey Him even when we do not feel we can sing well, and worship the Lord God in music, we also strengthen and teach one another through singing together.

Now it is apparent that this list screams best friends! You or I cannot just hug someone’s wife, or rebuke a stranger. But look through the list and find some things you can start to do immediately with those inside our church. And start friendships. Invite people to hang out, go to lunch or really get brave and invite them over to your house. Aggressive love and friendship pleases Jesus!

But remember this whole thing is easier when you work as a team. It is God’s way to team up and invite someone to join your group in an activity. Teaming up is God’s way. That is why Jesus created an inner circle of 12.

That is also why we are a local church inside a city. Most New Testament letters are written to the Christians inside a city and called to unify and work together obeying Jesus. God wants His teamed up followers to shine like a light in a city of spiritual darkness. One little candle does not shine bright enough to get the attention of the city. But try collecting a crowd of candles and the light shines bright.

So how do we team up? Making disciples is not the job of the pastors, but our job.

In football the coaches do not play on the field. They oversee, train, equip, coach, encourage, and create plays. The players go out onto the field and execute the plays. The team works together by taking responsibility for important actions and they function together. Each of us has an important team position and must be dedicated and focused to do our part. So what position do you fill?

4/ Jesus gives us spiritual strength (a grace gift) to fulfill our ministry

Romans 12:6-8 (NKJV)

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7  or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8  he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Remember God’s grace grows our desires to please God and strengthen us to fulfill His will. That is why He gives you His powerful love language. Each grace gift thrusts you into a specific way to love others. Your gift will color what you see is important. It will also press you to love others in the way your gift is designed to express His love.

Where do you fit into God’s team, the Body of Christ? (make sure you score your grace gifts sheet)

The letters on the assessment sheets translate to each of the seven grace gifts. C is the same as mercy giver. If you do not have a grace gift assessment contact me and I can email it to you.

Jesus was FULL of all the aspects of the Godhead. But each disciple is intentionally equipped by the Holy Spirit with one of the seven gifts so that we must unite and work together to glorify God (1 Peter 4:10). We need each other to fully glorify God and build each other up. This is how we help make disciples!

The ministers of the Word (1 Peter 4:10)…

1/ PROPHET (perception) Main focus: a SPIRITUAL doctor, good and evil, repentance and prayer

GOD’S DESIGN: To monitor the spiritual health of the Body of Christ and protect it from evil, bitterness, and satanic attack.

2/ TEACHER (mentor, instructor) Main focus: MIND, full and complete education of all disciples to know the TRUTH

GOD’S DESIGN: To present clear and complete instruction to protect the BODY OF CHRIST from dangerous error that would ruin the mission of the church.

3/ EXHORTER (encourager) Main focus: Psychological health, healthy relationships, solving problems

GOD’S DESIGN: To encourage everyone in the BODY OF CHRIST to grow spiritually and keep all members applying spiritual truth.

The ministers of the work (1 Peter 4:10)…

4/ LEADER (administrator, organizer) Main focus: holding up the church by giving vision and direction

GOD’S DESIGN: To give leadership and organization to the BODY OF CHRIST and keep everyone focused on following Jesus and doing His will (vision: seeing the big picture).

5/ SERVANT (minister, helper, worker) Main focus: physical work, building or creating projects, doing things

GOD’S DESIGN: To help with the practical needs of the BODY OF CHRIST. This keeps the work of the ministry and mission going.

6/ GIVER (gifts, supplies, support) Main focus: giver of money, things, time and love

GOD’S DESIGN: To monitor the BODY OF CHRIST and supply it with needed resources to complete the work of God.

7/ COMPASSION (mercy giver) Main focus: emotional hurting, helping people feel better, protecting others from hurt

GOD’S DESIGN: To monitor the BODY OF CHRIST to find the hurting members, then show His compassion and nurse them back to health and keep the team in right attitudes in our relationships.

Once we become friends, love each other, join together as a powerful team, and fill our role as His servant building up each other the natural overflow is working together and making disciples.

5/ Jesus commands us to go work together and help fulfill His mission

Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

A football team works together to get the football across the goal line. Our team, the BODY OF CHRIST, works together to get the gospel of Jesus in our city across the goal line of the stubborn disobedient hearts of those who do not believe. Together our team uses all the love, truth, grace, strength, determination, and combined force that God empowers us with to push the devil down the field to plant our football, the word of God, in the endzone of hard hearts that will be rescued as trophies of grace for our awesome God.

Then we all start over at part #1 and share this amazing truth to the new members of the team. We are disciples making disciples for the glory of God.

As David Platt states, “As Jesus transforms the thoughts and desires of our lives, he revolutionizes our very reason for living.”  From FOLLOW ME. A call to die. A call to live. Page 146

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