God’s expectation for His children to be involved in the life of His body, the church, is an important theme that deserves our utmost concern and attention. As we seek to delve deeper into this critical biblical theme, an important question that we all need to reflect upon is this: “What would be in the mind of God for His children upon their conversion?” Pondering on what the apostle Paul has written to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:58 would shed some light regarding this discussion: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
As members of God’s family at Jurong, we do understand from the Scriptures concerning God’s expectation of His children to be ever abounding in the work of the church, and we are given the blessed assurance that our efforts will be recognised by God. Such an assurance from God ought to propel us to remain steadfast in our various areas of service at Jurong. Moreover, there is also a need to consider God’s expectation of His children to grow and mature spiritually in the light of recognising and accepting our Christian responsibilities to labour in the Lord’s church. Consider what the apostle Peter has written in 2 Peter 3:18, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Hence, when we examine both 1 Corinthians 15:58 and 2 Peter 3:18 together, we can infer that one of the ways Christians can grow to maturity in Christ is when we purposefully apply the biblical knowledge and principles that we have gleaned from God’s Word by being actively involved in the work of the church. In this regard, we need to realise and understand that God has left certain instructions for His children of what he or she is to do until His second coming. Specifically, the mission of the church is to bring the gospel message to those people who are still lost in sin (Matthew 28:18-20); to strengthen the faith of brethren through edification initiatives (Hebrew 10:24-26); to be benevolent to those people who are in need (Galatians 6:9-10; James 1:27); and to worship God in His prescribed manner (John 4:23-24). Labouring actively in the Lord’s church would help to promote individual spiritual growth as well as enabling a congregation to experience spiritual growth in a collective manner.
As we consider God’s commandments for His children to continue in the works of the church in the areas of evangelism, edification, benevolence and glorification, it is also a timely reminder for us to reflect upon what the apostle Matthew has written in Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.” Our Lord Jesus has encountered during His earthly ministry a shortage of workers who were able and willing to serve and contribute to the work of the church, and the congregation that meets at Jurong may also encounter similar situations.
In this regard, there seems to be a sense of disconnect between knowing what God expects of His children to do and the actual application of that body of biblical knowledge in our Christian living. Specifically, members of the church may often give excuses of various kind for not being able to do the will of God. Examples of excuses may pertain to reasons related to career, physical possessions, family relationships, recreation, age, and physical health etc. The list of excuses given could go on and on, but let us seriously take heed to what the Scriptures has to say concerning our responsibilities as Christians in James 1:22-25.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
Moreover, it is also wise to consider another two passages of Scriptures in this discussion:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)
Truly, the Word of God has much to say with regard to our duties as Christians to labour in His vineyard, and let us constantly remind ourselves of the importance to set our priorities right in our daily walk with our Lord. When we establish the right priorities as Christians we will be able to devote our time, effort, and talents in our service to God rather than allowing our worldly pursuits and the cares of this world to “smokescreen” us from doing the work of the Lord’s church (1 John 2:15-17).
There is much work to be done and God is counting on His children to continue to carry out the mission of His church. Therefore, as members of God’s family at Jurong, every one of us are valuable in the sight of God and we can play our part – no matter what role it may be – to labour for the cause of the Lord. We are labourers together in the kingdom of God and let us work together as a closely-knitted team so as to accomplish more for our Lord.
And as we strive to embark on the work of the church, there may be certain times and situations which may cause us to feel disheartened, discouraged or disappointed, but let us hold fast to the promises of God in Hebrews 6:10 during those difficult and challenging periods in our walk with God: “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”