by Dennie Matthews, Mumbai

The expectation of the arrival of a baby excites every family, and they make all efforts to make their home conducive for the coming little one. The progress and health of a child depends much upon the atmosphere at home. Similarly, the wellbeing and the development of a believer rest largely upon the health of the congregation. Let us consider briefly five marks of a healthy local church from the book of Romans.

1. Individual sanctity of the members. Romans 12: 1 – 3
Church is made up of individuals. Each one needs to be committed, separated and humble. If anyone is in sin, it will affect the whole congregation. No private life in the church of God. God will deal with the erring brethren (Joshua 7: 10, 11).

2. Love, not in words but reflected through life. Romans 12: 9 – 21
Christian love is extraordinary. It cannot be hidden. The impact of such divine love in action is far-reaching (cf. vs. 9 – 21).

3. A diverse community living in unity. Romans 12: 4 - 6
A local assembly consists of a variety of people. Some weak, some strong; some like this and some like that. We all prefer people of same wave length as us. But we should be careful not to destroy the one who is weak for whom Christ died (Rom 14: 1ff). Appreciate unity in diversity.

4. Church believers in the spread of the gospel. Romans 15: 19 – 21
In Chapter 16, Paul refers to people who shared in the gospel work with him. He was burdened to carry the gospel to the unreached areas, and the local assembly members joined with him in those efforts. God has not called us to be a club or an entertainment place. The great commission is to bear the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28: 18 – 20).

5. A community always on guard. Romans 16: 17 – 19
They are always watchful against false teachers and trouble makers. The weak and newcomers easily fall into the trap of the smooth talkers and divisive men. No ground is a clean ground. Along with the good seed, tares also come up. Where there are sheep there are wolves also. So we need to teach the right doctrine to the members.

For a church to be healthy and productive the congregation should respond individually as well as collectively.

Related topic: What is Church?



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