A lack of unity makes the church crooked. A crooked church has a problem with repentance and discipline. A crooked church has some great side shows for people to come see. When a church tries to operate outside of the pattern it is crooked and the only way it can become straight is to return to the pattern set down in scripture by the Lord.
I come from a family of people who work well with their hands. My father could work on cars, do
carpentry work, electrical work, and plumbing. My brothers are
blessed with the same talents. I must confess that I don't have
those talents. I can remember trying to build an item in
woodshop while in high school. I worked hard to get it right but
when I finished I had cut the block crooked and the piece I
needed to insert would not fit. No matter what I tried to do I
couldn't get it to fit. I had to start all over and follow the
pattern in order to do the project the right way. Our Lord has
established a pattern for His church. This pattern must be
followed in order for the church to operate according to His
will. When a church tries to operate outside of the pattern it
is crooked and the only way it can become straight is to return
to the pattern set down in scripture by the Lord. What are some
things that make a church crooked? A lack of unity makes the
church crooked. It becomes crooked because a house divided
against itself cannot stand. A divided house is a confused
house. The people in a divided church are doing things that
aren't in the will of the Lord. They are trying to occupy
positions that aren't theirs to occupy. They are pulling and
pushing and not accomplishing anything because they are not
doing the will of the Lord. They are trying to move in
directions they aren't suppose to move. This divided house is
not only crooked but it is failing and soon will fall. A crooked
church is a church with a problem of preacher worship. This
group has the preacher they want to pick and that group has the
preacher they want to promote and there is a disregard for who
God is saying to pick. Surely, you remember this was a problem
in the church at Corinth.
There were people in the church who claimed this person or that person causing confusion in the church. Some liked Paul, some Apollos, and some Peter. Paul chastised them for this foolishness. Christian friends, No preacher or pastor should point men to himself. If he does, he is crooked along with the church. No preacher should seek to glorify himself, and receive the praise and adoration of people. He should strive to please the Lord.
A crooked church has a problem with lay leaders in the church. These lay leaders seek to be seen or use their position for power or prestige. They want to be seen by men rather than used by the Lord. They have the wrong focus. They should be striving to please the Lord. These leaders should recognize that it is not about them and that it is all about Jesus.
A crooked church has some great side shows for people to come see. There are those who perform so they can be seen. They pray eloquent prayers and sing as if they are in the throne room of God but it is done so they can receive praise rather than God. There are those who dress to impress. They want people to see their latest fashions and how well they dress. They have forgotten that God is interested in the soul not the clothes. There are those who show up so they can carry the latest gossip. They cause the church to be crooked because they are not about doing the will of the Lord.
A crooked church also has a problem with repentance and discipline. This church allows any and everything to happen. Sin is left alone. They don't want to hear about sin or hell. After all. if sin is dealt with somebody might have to change and God forbid someone might even be saved. We are talking about things that make a church become crooked. A crooked church has no respect for God-sent leadership. They want to run the church, the pastor, the leaders, and Jesus if they can. Finally a crooked church is a church where the Lord cannot dwell. But, if allowed, He can make it straight. Our text gives the Lord's pattern for His church. If a crooked church will follow this pattern it can become straight.
The first piece to the pattern
is to have the right leadership. The text says And he gave
some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and
some, pastors and teachers. The Lord gave these leaders to
function in the church. It is through the pastor/teacher that
Lord gives the direction for the church. A church can only be
straight if the pastor/teacher is straight and sent to the
church by the Lord. This means the Lord must give him to the
church or the church is out of the will of the Lord.
The second piece of the pattern is, the other leaders of the church and members must function under the leadership of the pastor/teacher and receive their direction from him. The leaders of the church must function under their callings for the church to be straight. These leaders are sent to the church for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ. This will bring unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. When the leaders of the church function as they should, the believers will be equipped for ministry.
The third piece of the pattern is unity. When leaders and members function as they should, this brings unity to the church so there are no divisions or side shows. Instead, the church is focused on doing the will of the Lord. A straight church is functioning under the guidance of the Holy Spirit so they are one body in Christ united in His vision and purpose. They are sold out to Him and there is love in the church that won't allow gossip and backbiting, but will build up the saints so when one hurts they all hurt, when one rejoices they all rejoice— because they will have become one. This straight church is a church God can honor and bless. This straight church is a church that will appeal to those who are lost in sin. This straight church will be a lighthouse in a world darkened by sin.
You might ask how does a church remain straight. First they must stick to the pattern. This means the pastor must be the leader. Those who are called with the gifts of apostles, prophets and evangelist must function under the pastor. Lay leaders must receive their directions from the pastor and never think they can tell the pastor what to do, when to do, or how to do anything unless he seeks their opinion. Second, The church must put down those things that might cause divisions and continue to love each other unconditionally. The final item to help a church stay straight is found in Acts 2:42:
They joined with the other believers in regular attendance at the apostles' teaching sessions and at the Communion services and prayer meetings. (New Living Translation)
In order for the church to remain straight, the believers must come together. They must come together to study God's word. It is through the study of God's word that the church remains anchored in the Lord and stays in His will. The church must come together for communion to remember Jesus who died for the church and will return for the church one day. The church must come together to pray. The reason so many churches are weak today is they don't value prayer. Prayer changes things. God gave each of us the right to come to him in prayer but there is something special that happens when the church prayers together. We talk about the family that prays together stays together. Doesn't this apply to the church? After all, we are a family.
My dear brothers and sisters, the church must be a reflection of Jesus. A crooked church is not a reflection of Jesus. It is a reflection of worldly people who claim to be Christians. The church can't be effective in the war against sin if it is living in sin and looking worldly. It is time for the church to be a reflection of Jesus. It is time for the church to be straight. It is time for the church to follow the Lord's pattern. Let's get right, church, so we can truly be the church Jesus can use to fight against sin and win the lost to the Lord.
Just Keeping It Real!