We may experience a degree of frustration when we don’t see, from time to time, much numerical growth in God’s Church. There is growth in numbers in the German-speaking areas, but this is not necessarily the case today in other countries such as the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom.
What we have to bear in mind is that Christ is the Head of His Church, and God adds members to the Church according to His will and His pre-ordained plan for this time and age. Furthermore, growth can be measured in more than one manner. There is physical numerical growth of new members being added to the Church, and there is spiritual growth in grace, knowledge and understanding.
God warns us that in these end times, many members will be part of the Laodicea era. He challenges all of us to be zealous and on fire. Our Church group is small by comparison. We are truly a little flock. But what is most important to God? Does He delight in a large group of half-hearted, compromising individuals easily distracted by the cares of this world and delving in areas not related to the commission of the Church? No! Rather, He has pleasure in a dedicated focused group, doing the Will of God in supporting the preaching of the Gospel and overcoming their sins.
We are admonished not to despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10), and we must not forget Gideon’s army being reduced to three hundred men, yet accomplishing a great task.
Some of our members have died, and others have left our fellowship, reducing our numbers. Bear in mind that in addition to death, there are two ways people leave the Church: They “voluntarily” quit for some reason, usually because of compromise, their passing pleasures in the ways of this world and their unwillingness to deal with their sins; or Christ, the living Head of the Church, puts them out of the Church through His ministry.
If we are not growing and overcoming and if we refuse to utilize the talents God has given us and if we rather continue in a wicked and evil lifestyle, then Christ’s patience with us runs out. We read that He gave Jezebel plenty of time to repent but there comes a time when it is too late (Revelation 2:20-23). Christ will cut off from His body rotten apples or a cancer that is not healing or getting better. Christ will do so for the good of His Body since a little leaven leavens the whole lump. If the sinner does not repent and forsake his or her sin, he or she will suffer the consequences.
As an analogy, we might look at a business company. Some employees may resign or quit to their own detriment, or they can be fired or let go. Some companies have a “three strikes and you are out” policy. An employee may be given two chances to correct his or her behavior or lack of performance, but at the third offense, he or she is terminated.
When a person is actually put out by Christ, it is for the good of the Body. We should of course pray that the person would repent and could be reinstated, but sadly, many times a person who is being disfellowshipped or leaves voluntarily because of his or her sinful ways or a haughty and self-righteous attitude will not repent, at least not any time soon.
Let us keep our eyes on the goal and continue to grow in grace, knowledge and understanding, and let us allow God the Father and Jesus Christ to manage the true Church as They see fit. And, let us be grateful for the opportunity we have been given today to qualify for a glorious future in God’s Kingdom.