Who belongs in a local church?
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, Romans 1:1
5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ Romans 1:5-6
to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints… Romans 1:7 a
Every day we make choices. Our days are full of choices, we cannot escape them. What do I eat, when do I get out of bed, what am I going to read, and so on. One of the biggest, and most overlooked choices we all must make is who we decide to spend time with. This goes beyond our marriages and family.
We also must decide who we are going to listen to and allow to influence us. Our views are determined by what we allow into our minds. If we sit and listen to bad news all day long, if we watch angry people who have nothing positive to say, then that is how we will be.
How can we change that? Join a local church!
This is what Paul is encouraging us to do in the opening of the book of Romans. First, he tells us he is an apostle, that he is called, and that he is set apart. We may think this applies only to him but says in verse five that “we have received grace and apostleship”. Who is “we”? Us!
Then he talks about the influence we receive, and the influence we give. If I receive grace and apostleship and do nothing with it because the people we listen to are angry, selfish, loud, and so on, we have surrendered our influence. If we take the gifts we have received, grace and apostleship in this case, and use them for the good of others, we then become the influencer.
How do we exercise these gifts and increase our influence? In the groups of people that Paul refers to as the “beloved of God in Rome” and “called as saints”. Let’s be clear, there is nothing in scripture that says to be saved, to go to heaven, that we must go to a church. But if we want to have influence, if we want to learn how to be the people God has called us to be, then we need to be with people who will build us up, and who will make sure we understand the message God has given us for our community (1 Corinthians 14:3). We need to be in a local church with others who are called as saints!