The Measure of a Healthy Church - Faith, Hope, and Love

The "church" often gets a bad rap in our modern world. It's easy to find things to complain about that are less than ideal and less than God desires for his church. It's easy to love the church of our dreams instead of the church God has actually given us. Sometimes we've even experienced legitimate hurt due to the remaining sin that pervades some churches.But the Apostle Paul shows us how to relate to imperfect churches through his recorded prayers in his letters. Paul knew that fervent prayer was the key to the churches' continual growth in the way of Jesus, but he also knew that there was much to be thankful for in the work God had already done. Instead of fault-finding, Paul diligently searched for evidences of God's work in a church, and he readily gave thanks to God for the fruit he observed. He knew that any measure of spiritual fruit that exists in a church is a miracle of God, and that thankfulness opens our eyes to a more full grasp of the work God is doing through his church.

Throughout Paul's letters, a pattern emerges in which he looks for three primary attributes for which to be thankful: faith, hope, and love. These are the three virtues that outshine and outlast any other spiritual gift we could perceive (see 1 Cor. 13:13). After studying Paul's patterns of thanksgiving in his letters, Dr. Gene Getz calls these three attributes “the measure of a healthy church” (click to find his book as a great resource for understanding more).

Do you want to know if our church is healthy? Here are a few diagnostic questions that I posed to our church on Sunday (plus a few more). I urge you to ask these questions, recognizing your walk with Christ contributes to the faith, hope, and love of your whole local church:


1. Look at where we put our faith:

  • Do we put it in earthly measures of “success”? Or do we put it in the power of our risen and reigning Lord Jesus?

  • Do we work in our own power? Or do we desperately pray for God to work?

  • Do we tolerate idols in our heart?

  • Do we long for and rely upon the nourishment of God's word?

2. Look at how we love one another:

  • Do we truly care about one another?

  • Is our love toward ALL the saints (see Eph. 1:15)? Or is our love just toward those who are easy to love?

  • Do we forgive each other when sinned against?

  • Do we forbear differences of opinion and minor annoyances?

  • Do we speak truth to one another and point one another to Jesus?

  • Do we actually prioritize spending time together?

3. Look at where we find our hope.

  • Do we talk about the Kingdom of Heaven more than we talk about how worried we are about the politics, policies and events of this world?

  • Do we sing and speak of heaven with great joy and anticipation?

  • Do we point one another to a hope that is untouched by flesh and blood… and uncorrupted by Satan, sin, or death?

  • Do we courageously bear witness to Jesus Christ, recognizing that this world is not our home?

A church that is healthy will bear this kind of fruit in increasing measure. Is your walk with Christ bearing this fruit and contributing it to our church? Once you investigate for this type of fruit, thank God for the ways you see it in our church, and ask him to produce more! In addition to that, take time to tell someone in our church about how thankful you are for their faith, hope, and/or love.

PROCLAIM. EQUIP. SEND.

from the desk of Pastor Ben

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All Scripture text reference from: The ESV Global Study Bible®, ESV® Bible | Copyright © 2012 by Crossway.
All rights reserved. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)

 

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Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. | All rights reserved.

ESV Text Edition: 2016