By Dan Shipley
Did you ever think about who turns out the lights and locks the doors at the church building? It may seem a small thing, but it could create some problems if no one did it. The point is, someone accepts the responsibility that most members give very little thought to. The same could be said of cleaning and maintaining the building, parking lot, lawn, etc. Usually, some few willing souls will volunteer their services — and most others are perfectly willing to let them. Many Christians simply do not relate themselves to such work, and worse, may not appreciate those who do. But, in the absence of paid janitors and yardmen, why is any one member any more or less responsible than any other? What if no members cared about the appearance of a dirty building, or a weed-filled lawn or broken windows? Such neglect would soon become embarrassingly apparent.
On the other hand, other and more serious neglect is not so apparent. Take, for instance, the erring brother. Whose responsibility is he? Who cares? Must he finally embarrass the church like an unpainted door or a broken window to merit attention? God says, “Ye which are spiritual” should restore such a one (Gal. 6:1). As none will admit to not being spiritual, that makes the erring member the business of every member! When Christians are motivated by genuine love and concern for each other; when they have the same care one for another (1 Cor. 12:25); and when each looks to the needs of others (Phil. 2:4), little time will be wasted in trying to figure out who has to go and help “save a soul from death” (Jas. 5:20). What if no one in the whole church cared about the weak brother? It’s bad when Christians don’t care about unkempt meeting places; but it’s far worse when they neglect the erring brother, one for whose sake Christ died.
Equally important is the responsibility every Christian has in regard to teaching the lost. The faithful are to be able to teach others (2 Tim. 2:2). All are to be ready always to give answer concerning their hope (1 Pet. 3:15). To that extent they can teach others how to gain such hope. When the early Christians were scattered abroad, they went about preaching the word (Acts 8:4). Unscattered Christians can and should do the same. Paul writes of how most of the Roman brethren were bold to speak the word of God without fear (Phil. 1:14). The world urgently needs such bold brethren speaking that same word today! But who will do it? Those who turn out the lights and lock the doors? Only those who preach from pulpits? God looks to His people — all of His people — to help others in the way of salvation. The blessings of truth and salvation are not to be hoarded, but shared — else, we risk losing them. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10). How can His followers not be interested and involved in the same work? How can they not care?
Shunned and shifted responsibility has hurt the Lord’s church immeasurably. The slothful spirit of “doing-as-little-as-you-have-to” may suit the world, but it is grossly inappropriate for those who care — and those who have been blessed with God’s best.
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