A sign of a healthy church is the members build their individual lives around the church, not the other way around.
The story of the book
The books of 1 and 2 Kings tell the story of the long line of kings that came after King David. This came after God had promised him that his line would produce a future king that would establish an eternal kingdom (2 Samuel 7:16).
The reigns of the kings detailed in these books proved none of them were that future king. Their reigns eventually lead to Israel’s collapse and exile to Babylon.
But there were some bright lights shining in this darkness. During this period of time, we’re introduced to the prophets. These were people that emerged within the story of Israel with a unique role. They were people who…
- Spoke on behalf of God
- Monitored Israel’s behavior in relation to the covenant
- Called out idolatry and injustice among the kings and the people
- Challenged the people of Israel to repent and follow the covenant with God
The most prominent ones were Elijah and his disciple Elisha. Elijah was a wild man that lived out in the desert. His main nemesis was king Ahab and his wife Jezebel, who ruled the northern Kingdom (Israel) after the nation of Israel had divided in two (1 Kings 12).
They had instituted the worship of the Canaanite god Baal over Israel. In a famous story in 1 Kings 18, Elijah makes a challenge. Through a series of events, King Ahab had replaced the prophets of Israel with prophets of Baal. So Elijah confronts them.
First, he says to all the people…
How long are you going to struggle with the two choices? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.
Then he challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest to see which God was real. They each prayed to their god and asked for fire from heaven to burn a sacrifice on an altar. The true god would be the one who sent fire to consume the sacrifice.
In a spectacular display of God’s power, fire fell from heaven, consuming the sacrifice and everything around it (1 Kings 18:38).
His Body is your life
You can identify what you worship not by the words that come out of your mouth, but by what is prominent and takes precedence in your life.
The people of Israel were living double lives. Part of the time they were serving Yahweh and part of the time they were serving Baal.
The Hebrew word used for “struggle” in Elijah’s challenge is typically used to describe a lame man. It was like Israel was limping back and forth between Yahweh and Baal. Because of this, Yahweh was an insignificant part of their lives. Their lives were built around the goings on of the secular culture they were in.
Churches are constantly presented with a choice to be a people who build their lives with and around each other. Jesus followers are commissioned to follow Him wholly and completely (Luke 9:23).
This doesn’t mean they are perfect and don’t make mistakes. It means they’re intentional about Him being the center and circumference of their lives. If Jesus the Head is your life, then Jesus the Body will also be your life.
This means His Body is not a compartmentalized section of life. It is your life.
Randy Frazee points out in his book The Connecting Church 2.0…
The Scriptures tell me I should begin with God’s story and then move to our story before I can truly find my story in the world or hope to know who I really am.
Just like a healthy family
A church in the biblical sense of the word (ekklesia), is a close-knit, shared-life family-like community. It’s members build their individual lives with and around each other, not the other way around.
A sign of church health is a familial-like commitment to one another and to working together to expand God’s Kingdom on the earth. This is what is most prominent and takes precedent in the life of a church.
No, this doesn’t mean you say no to participating in every single thing that doesn’t have to do with the life of the church. You don’t do every single thing with your family, do you? I hope not.
It’s a posture, attitude and mindset from which decisions are made. It means decisions are made in light of the life of the church and how it will affect its mission, just like happens with the members of a healthy family.
When this happens, God’s power is displayed and the followers of the false gods of this world see who the true God is.