Are you involved in the church’s activities? This question might be answered in a number of ways by various people in the church. Some would say that they’re up to their eyeballs in church activities, while others, on the other end of the spectrum, would reply, “Well, I come to church—sometimes.” And still others might say that they’re up to their eyeballs in church activities, because they come to church services most of the time.
It’s interesting how the religious culture around us influences what we understand God’s expectations of us might be. Because the world around us is almost utterly uninvolved in religious life, we are sometimes tempted to believe that “more involved than them” is plenty and perhaps even pretty dedicated. But this is not how early disciples of Jesus understood their commitment to the Lord.
The New Testament carries plenty of encouragement for serious involvement in the life of the church and the purposes of God. 1 Peter 2:5, 9 and Revelation 1:6; 5:10; and 20:6 call all Christians priests — for example, “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5). Priests are active—really active—in the business of God. Their lives revolve around service to God; they are sanctified to God for dedicated use in His service.
However, this understanding began to “lose steam”, according to history, about the 2nd or 3rd century. Everett Ferguson wrote in Early Christians Speak:
“…by the time of Cyprian in the third century the language of priesthood was no longer an Old Testament analogy but an established designation for officers in the church. Clement affords the first use in Christian literature of the language of ‘laity’ in contrast to ministers, In the Bible ‘the people’ (laos, from which laity is derived) is a noble concept, ‘the people of God,’ and refers to the whole of God’s elect. As God’s elect, all participated in the “priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5,9). Someone has observed that the organizational history of the second and third centuries, therefore, is not the story of the emergence of the priesthood but the emergence of a distinct laity not exercising a priestly ministry.”
And to this day, aren’t we often tempted to think in “clergy/laity” terms?
And we do this to our detriment, because there are so many benefits to personal involvement in the church.
- Our faith grows when it works — inactive faith is a dead faith according to James 2:14 and following verses. On the other hand, active faith grows, flourishes, and blesses others.
- The church is healthier and more capable, when you contribute your involvement — 1 Corinthians 12 pounds the point that a healthy body always has healthy and active organs. We are the organs of the body of Christ. Without the activity and involvement of all of us, the body is less than completely healthy and is handicapped.
- Other Christians are encouraged — nothing is more discouraging than to be the only one or one of the few involved; ask any minister. On the other hand, few things are more encouraging than when the whole body rises up in involvement and works together for the Lord’s cause.
- Fellowship is enhanced — fellowship isn’t limited to just eating together, is it? Some of the greatest fellowship of the church is in its work together.
- The world is attracted by an active church and active disciples — the world is looking for something worth their time, effort, and heart; they are looking for meaning for their lives. An involved church tells the world that yes, there is something worth living and dying for.
Let me encourage you to be involved: worship and Bible class attendance, work days, Bible classes, Vacation Bible School when we have it, youth work, work around the church building and grounds, becoming a followup teacher, becoming an evangelistic teacher, becoming a home of hospitality, becoming an active encourager of other disciples, becoming a greeter at church, helping with the nursery, and so much more.