I do not want to build a church. Does that sound surprising to you coming from a pastor of 17 years? I can make a statement like that because of what Jesus said in Matthew 16:18. He said, "I will build My church" (emphasis added). If He is going to build His church, I don't want to assume a responsibility that is not mine. But do I just sit back and watch Him build His church or is there anything that I am to do? I don't ask that question as a pastor but as a member of God's family.
To answer that question we will look at five non-negotiable features that should be at the heart of every church. If these principles are true of your church, then you will have what is needed for Christ to use you for His glory.
A High View of God
"It is absolutely essential that a church perceive itself as an institution for the glory of God" writes John MacArthur. I agree. God must be glorified in all that we do. In the little things of our life as well as the big. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." In other words, we are to "do it all with a habitual aim to the glory of God; by considering His precepts, and the propriety, expediency, appearance, and tendency of their actions" (R.A. Torrey, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge). 1 Corinthians 6:20 says that we "were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." What is your habitual aim? Is it to glorify God? In everything? It seems that twentieth century thinking in the church is not how can God be glorified in this situation but more how can I benefit from this? We gravitate toward what makes us feel good or what brings us profit. But as we have already seen from 1 Corinthians 6:20, we are not our own. We now belong to another. Our desire should be to glorify Him and not ourselves.
A second contributor to a high view of God is "the fear of the Lord." When we have a healthy "fear" of God, it illustrates that we take God seriously at His Word. In Proverbs 8:13 it says, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate." Notice what the fear of the Lord is. It is to "hate evil, pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth." It is hating what God hates and turning from it in our lives. Proverbs 16:6 says, "...by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil." Having a healthy fear of the Lord enables us to "depart from evil." Therefore, glorifying God in all we do then and taking Him seriously at His Word are the steps to having a high view of God. They are steps we must take daily. But the final step that we must not omit is one that hits us where we live. It's moving from a man-centeredness to a God-centeredness. That means we need to get our attention off ourselves and think on Him. We need to have the perspective that John the Baptist had when he said, "He must increase and I must decrease." To do that we must think biblically (Rom.12:1-2), talk biblically (Col.4:6), and act biblically (Rom.13:12-14). This does not just happen. It can only happen when we yield our mind, will, and emotions to the control of the Holy Spirit (see Eph.5:18 and Col.3:16).
What are you doing to develop a high view of God? Are you turning from evil? Are you seeking to develop a life that is focused on glorifying God in all things? Is the Spirit of God controlling you?