- Read Hebrews 4:14-16 here.
- If you missed Sunday’s sermon (16 May), you can listen to it here.
- Follow the rest of the discussion here.
In this series of posts I intend to examine the implications of claiming the title “Church of Christ” for our fellowship. I don’t recall having ever heard a church emphasise the significance of the name other than making the point that it’s take directly from Rom. 16:16. So this discussion is not an explanation of it’s current significance, but rather an exploration of how this name could shape our identity if we take it seriously.
The points I choose to highlight appear in no particular sequence. The earlier ones should not take priority over the latter ones, although you might choose to prioritise them for your own benefit. They are simply some of the implications I see of acknowledging that we belong to a church that belongs to Christ.
The Church of Christ should also be The Church of Prayer.
When we acknowledge that The Church of Christ really means The Church Belonging to Christ, we should adopt an attitude of humility. We acknowledge that submitting to Jesus for forgiveness and reconciliation started a process that continues today. We never reach a point where we attain a status of sufficient righteousness and godliness that we can stop submitting to Christ.
Since the church belongs to Christ, we need to seek his will for the church. In general, we do this through the study of Scripture. In specific circumstances, we do this through prayer. The very act of prayer assumes a posture of submission. In prayer, we acknowledge our lack of answers and our dependence upon God for those answers.
Prayer declares that we serve a risen and living Saviour with a vested interest in the well-being of his church. Hebrews 4:14-16 (cf. Rom. 8:34) describes Christ as actively representing us before the throne of God. Verse 16 states that by turning to God through Christ “we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” How tragic if The Church Belonging to Christ passes up opportunities to appeal to Christ: opportunities to receive his mercy, grace, and help.
In practice, I often find myself trusting my own wisdom and experience rather than submitting to Jesus. When someone shares a concern with me, I listen to them, consider the issues and the Scriptures, and then share my advice, and if I remember, finally take time to pray together.
I believe that The Church Belonging to Christ should make prayer such a central part of its identity that it becomes our first and automatic response to difficulties we encounter. Rather than problem solving and then praying, The Church Belonging to Christ should develop a culture that bathes a dilemma in prayer and only then begin problem solving in the quest of God’s will for the situation.
A Church of Christ, that doesn’t make prayer a central part of its identity quickly becomes The Church of US.
- Can you think of any church/denomination that has a reputation as a “church of prayer”?
- Does your church already emphasise prayer? How does it do this?
- Do you agree that the urge to problem-solve rather than pray is widespread and natural? Do you have tips to help overcome this urge?