A Healthy Church
I had suspected that we were abusing the word “sound” in reference to churches, preachers and others, but didn’t realize how much until I heard a member tell of having a cousin that was not sound and had to be straightened out on the issues. It was not until later that I learned that “cuz” was ‘a deacon in the Baptist church!
“Sound” suffers no injustice when applied to either people or churches, provided its use is warranted and in keeping with its scriptural sense. God employed this word "hugiaino" to convey the distinct idea of general healthiness and wholeness (1 Tim. 1:10; 1 Tim. 6:3; & Titus 1:13, e.g.); therefore we would do well to use it thusly. As physical health is more than merely having a few healthy organs, so spiritual health involves a great deal more than just being straight on whatever the current issues happen to be. Perhaps if we would speak in terms of spiritual health instead of "soundness” we would not be so apt to be misunderstood. For instance, I would welcome a “Directory of Healthy Churches”. Trouble is, who would compile the listings? Who outside the local church could say it was healthy and who inside the local church would say it wasn’t?
In the case of the Laodiceans, God has shown us the possibility of a church being blind to its own condition (Rev. 3). They saw themselves as being spiritually healthy, having (need of nothing while God saw them as being on their spiritual deathbed “miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Being sick is bad; being sick and not knowing it is worse. Worse, because remedies are neither sought nor received by those who think themselves healthy. If self is to be examined with reference to being in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5), why not the many “selfs” who act as one? A little honest introspection will show us that being healthy before God is more than big memberships, big buildings, big contributions, having “big” preachers and taking “big” stands on issues.
Let us see that a healthy church is one whose members are truly converted to Christ. Not to the church; not to the family or the preacher; but to the Lord! Everything depends on our attitude toward Him! To love Him is to keep His commandments (John 14:15); to serve Him is to serve others (Mt. 25). He must be the leaven of our lives; we must continually strive to conform to His image and be careful not to repeat the mistake of the Ephesian church by leaving our first love (Rev. 2:4).
Let us further see that healthy doctrine is the lifeblood of healthy churches. All members must know and love Bible truth. They don’t resent it being preached plainly and forcefully, they love it (1 Thess. 2:10); they desire it (1 Pet. 2:2) because they hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt. 5:6). But they not only love truth, they love each other as taught by Jesus in that truth (Jn. 15:12). When Christians are cemented together in a local work by love for the Lord, love for His truth, and love for each other, there will be a striving together to do and be all that God wants — and there will be a healthy church!