Oct 16, 2023
As Pastor Arthur walked us through the value of covenant membership, he used three words to describe the experience of being a part of the local church. He suggested that, within covenant membership, the local church can be a place where we are known, loved and cared for.
Let me repeat those words....
Known, loved and cared for....
Isn’t that the longing of every human heart?
Of course, that longing is only fulfilled perfectly in Christ. While we are on this earth, however, the Lord has given us the church, a place where we get to experience this type of belonging - a belonging that allows us to be known, loved and cared for.
To Be Known So what does it mean to be known in the church? At the most basic level, it simply means the ability to be ourselves without fear of rejection.
We say that Restoration Church is a home for the broken.....and we’re all broken. Jesus, himself, showed us the necessity of our brokenness in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3.
Christ’s church is filled with people who are poor in spirit. We are, by definition, a people who know that we are flawed, powerless and weak. It is from a recognition of our own poverty of spirit that we can experience His grace and mercy and it is here that we can walk in the ways that the Lord has called us.
He calls us to live in humility - “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
He calls us to weakness - “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
He calls us to repentance. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16
When we live this way, we open ourselves up to being known by our brothers and sisters in Christ and by our elders. We stop trying to look like we have it all together because we recognize our finitude and weakness and we live in repentance. It is only from this place that we can truly be known.
As long as we walk in pride, cover up our weakness and deny our sin, we hide behind a mask. In the context of a healthy, loving church, being known begins with being vulnerable, trusting that others will not reject us for our weakness because they recognize their own. And, it is from this place that we will also truly know others as we offer them the same grace they show us.
In the context of a healthy, loving church, being known begins with being vulnerable, trusting that others will not reject us for our weakness because they recognize their own.
To Be Loved Next, let’s consider what it means to be loved. We know that the world has completely distorted the idea of love. Love, by worldly standards, is largely about emotions - we love because we feel like loving and we feel loved because someone makes us feel good or gives us their approval. This superficial view of love often denies truth and is rooted in feelings.
But the Bible shows us a perfect love in 1 Corinthians....
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
This love is different. It is rooted in truth, it is sacrificial, patient and kind. It is shown through actions that are humble and gracious. It considers others first, it is generous, patient and hopeful and it reflects the heart of Christ and points others to the Gospel.
This is the love we strive for in the church and here are a few ways you might experience this love in the church...
• When a pastor reminds you of a Biblical truth that exposes your wrong thinking or takes you out of your comfort zone
• When a sister approaches you to clear up a misunderstanding or a wrongdoing that has put a wedge in your relationship
• When a brother shows grace for the mistake you know must have caused him frustration and extra work
• When an elder or deacon shows patience as they walk alongside your fight against sin, never condoning but praying, correcting and counseling with God’s word as you grow in holiness
• When a member with vast differences from you (perhaps politically or socioeconomically) worships and walks with you, united in Christ
In each example (and so many more!) we experience Biblical love when our brothers and sisters have the courage to walk alongside of us in a love that is rooted in truth and grounded in a humble heart that considers the eternal well being of others. When we observe and experience this kind of love, we are driven, by God’s grace, to show it to others. Finally, let’s look at what it means to be cared for. The idea of being cared for makes me think of the words of Paul to the Galatians,
To Be Cared For “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10
These words always remind of the ordinary faithfulness I see in so many godly friends the Lord has placed around me at RCS. This “doing good” includes intentional actions that flow from a heart that loves well. They often involve the giving of our time, our resources and ourselves.
There are countless ways that we have been cared for at Restoration Church. First and foremost, we are cared for in prayer. There is no better act of “doing good” than to pray for another. I’m so grateful for our praying church and for our prayerful pastors who “do good” in prayer every day.
There is no better act of “doing good” than to pray for another.
And, there are many other intentional acts of service that I see our church engage in to serve the body each week.
There are phone calls made to encourage.
There are homes opened for hospitality.
There are special days remembered and honored.
There are burdens shared and loads lightened.
There are hospital visits, ears that listen and life-giving words that are spoken.
There are those who pour into children who are not their own, those who reach out to have coffee to catch up on life and there are simple texts or phone calls just to say, “I notice that you haven’t been around.”
In all these things (and more) the Lord is at work. As we are cared for, our trust in the Lord grows. Our love for our sisters and brothers grows and the Lord gives us a greater desire and an increased capacity to care for others.
As we are cared for, our trust in the Lord grows. Our love for our sisters and brothers grows and the Lord gives us a greater desire and an increased capacity to care for others.
I know we say it often, but the Lord really does have it rigged. And, this may be most evident in His church. When the love of Christ fills our heart, we are willing to be known and we strive to know others deeply. As we understand His love and experience it through others, we begin to love like Christ. And, when we know the care of Christ through His church, we grow in our care for others.
Our God is good. We can know His goodness through His people. We can show His goodness to His people. And we can trust that He is working in it all as He builds His church. So, let us be a people who know each other deeply, who love one another with grace and truth and who show intentional, mutual care for the body of Christ.