“A happy wife is a happy life!” Many of you have heard that little catchphrase and most husbands would say, “AMEN!” to that. Well, I believe this following statement also warrants an “AMEN!” “A happy church is a happy life!” Let me explain myself. A happy wife is one who is very pleased with the relationship she has with her husband. She not only sees actions of love from her husband, but she is confident in the devotion he has for her, which is based upon the commitment that was made by him to love and cherish her until death separates them. The relationship is a dynamic one where he lovingly sacrifices himself for her and she lovingly respects and submits to his leadership. A marriage based on devotion to the basic foundations of the ‘one flesh’ relationship will produce joy, blessing and growth.
Now let me digress here a little. We all know what a wife is, but I want to tell you what a W.I.F.E. is. Paul uses the physical analogy of marriage to describe the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ. He says in Ephesians 5 that Jesus is the Bridegroom (husband) and the Church is the Bride (wife). We all know what a physical wife is, but what is a spiritual church?
First of all, the worldwide Church is comprised of all those who have individually placed their trust in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of eternal life. It is worldwide in scope and includes all who have believed since the day of Pentecost and who will believe in the future. Second of all, the worldwide Church meets in physical locations known as local churches, as it was with the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, the church at Colossae and the church at Rome. The Greek term for ‘church’ is ‘εκλησσια’ or ‘ecclesia’ and means ‘assembly’. The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts the dispersed believers with these words, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25, NASB) The local church is a physical gathering of believers in a certain locale. In the book of Acts, the local church met in the synagogues and in houses. They also had godly men (elders) who were appointed by the Apostles or by their disciples, like Paul, Timothy and Titus. These local churches “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42, NASB) These practices, which characterized the early church, are basic practices which are to define local churches today. Hence, an online meeting without physical assembling is not a church. It may have believers watching and interacting through chats, but it is not a church.
From that description in Acts, the acronym W.I.F.E. is derived “Worship”, “Instruction”, “Fellowship, and “Evangelism”. The early church was devoted to worshipping in prayer, they listened to the teaching of God’s Word, they enjoyed meals together with the Lord’s Supper, sharing with one another their material possessions so that no one had needs and they witnessed to others concerning the love of God in Christ Jesus and His death and resurrection. Consequently the local churches multiplied and there was great joy in the midst of Roman suppression and Jewish persecution. They were devoted because they had experienced the new birth and the new relationship they had with the living God through His Son. They were devoted because they now had the peace of God and hope for the future and the assurance of their salvation. Everything else became secondary to a personal, daily, and vibrant relationship with God. Having like minded believers gave them the opportunity to practice the ‘one another’ exhortations which were later recorded in the epistles. These new believers supernaturally exercised them because they were so grateful to Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit to freely and cheerfully live that lifestyle.
So, in the 21st century, the Church worldwide is still the Body of Christ and family of God. In addition, local churches existing all around the globe are still defined as they were in the Word of God. However, due to numerous factors, the local church in America is sadly deficient in being a “happy” church, thereby not experiencing a happy life. Too many true believers are not enjoying the abundant life which Jesus promised in John 10:10. Too many of these believers are satisfied that they are going to heaven when they die, but their priority in life is not seeking the kingdom of God first. They are not willing to die to self and live for Christ. Their salvation is simply, and tragically, “life insurance”. They are not concerned about worshipping the Savior Who bought them, reading and obeying the Word of God, enjoying meaningful fellowship with fellow believers, other than a casual one hour encounter online on Sunday morning, or sharing their salvation experience. How sad! What is our Heavenly Father feeling? That is not a happy or abundant life! Let’s pray for revival!
Bill Olsen, Elder