“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess 5:12, 13)
I recently had a wonderful fellowship with a Christian brother. He is a born again and Spirit filled Christian. He is one of the pastors in his church and very committed to the ministry. He is also an engineer by profession. Recently, his company in Warri promoted him and transferred him to Lagos. He told me that together with his wife they prayed about this transfer. Both feel lead that he should resigned from his company. He will then work in Warri as a professional consultant and private business man. He said that he did not have the freedom to ‘resign’ from God’s work in his church in Warri. I was impressed by his mature spirituality. I was telling him that unfortunately, many Christians are lead by their professional ambitions and not by their spiritual responsibilities. They go wherever their companies send them hoping that they will find a church in the new location. They do not pray about promotions and transfers assuming all these are always from God. They are not ready to go where the Holy Spirit tells them to go. Their commitments to their jobs are greater than their love for Jesus. This is a great temptation for the ‘successful’ carrier men and women all over the world.
This is a good question: why do we need to attend a local church? Is it not enough to just be born again? The answer is both yes and no. To be saved and to go to heaven you need to be born again by the Spirit of the Living God. Jesus died on the Cross that your soul be saved! Nothing can be added to that. But for you to live a happy, fulfilled and fruitful Christian life, you need to attend a living church and do ministry there. This is how God designed this Christian life to be. Please remember: Jesus Christ your Lord ‘loved the church and gave Himself up for her’ (Eph 5:25). Jesus called it ‘My church’ which ‘I will build’ (Mt 16:18). According to the Bible, if you love Jesus, you must love the church, which comes from Him, belongs to Him and is sanctified by His blessed saving work!
I know that there are some dangers here… One of them is this: overfamiliarity with your pastors is not good. After a long time in that church you may discover that your pastors are human with weaknesses and failures like you. But we are commanded to submit to their authority and to respect them ‘very highly’ not because of their charisma or gifts but because ‘of their work’ they do for the sake of Christ! It is their spiritual fruitful work that is the bases for that humble respect you have for them!
If you are sure that your spiritual leaders are truly called by God, then joyfully submit to their authority, even when you do not understand everything! If, on the other hand, you are not sure that your pastors are genuine Christians and you are not sure that they are called by God, please change your church! Church is designed by God to be a blessing, a spiritual family and a spiritual covering with wonderful benefits! Do not attend a church just because you like a girl there, just because you like the music or the fashion style of the pastor and his wife!!! Commit yourself to a good living church where the Holy Spirit moves, where the pastor preaches the true Gospel of Christ and were all the glory is openly given to God!
In Christ I declare: Blessed are you if you attend a good local church where your pastors are leading the flock well; where your pastors are working hard to prepare and preach good life transforming sermons; where your pastors love and pray for the souls of the people in the congregation; where your pastors worship God in Spirit and in truth; where your pastors speak the truth in love and are not afraid to rebuke and chastise the sinners or the backsliders; where your pastors share not just their words with you, but their lives as well! Pray for your pastors! Attend all the church services! Encourage your pastors! Support your pastors! Then God will bless you! You shall have peace with God and with all men! In Jesus name, amen!