I started writing this blog, and I realized that I had way too much to say at one time. So I’m breaking this up in parts, and I’ll be blogging on Why We Need the Church for a while. Now, if you have any suggestions or reasons, please feel free to leave me a comment. Blessings!
There was a time in my Christian journey where I did not have an actual church home. This period occurred after I graduated from college and moved to Delaware to begin my Masters degree. At the time, I didn’t have a car, there wasn’t much of a public transportation system, and the only nearby churches were Catholic, Episcopalian, and Scientists. So I figured I could watch some preacher’s online, study my Word, and I would be okay. I knew it wasn’t the ideal situation, but it could work in a pinch. Thankfully, God allowed me to develop an awesome relationship with one my truest friends today, and he was a serious Christian and took the Lord seriously. Being in the same program, we supported each other all the time. From dealing with our very similar family situations to our personal devotion to the Lord, we discussed any and everything together. And I thank God for my friend even to this day because he has definitely helped me and encouraged me on my Christian walk.
But when I left Delaware and moved back down South, I still went for about 3 years without a church home. Now, I did go to church fairly regularly at the beginning (I had a car then), but as I began to see some error in the doctrines that were being taught, I realized that remaining there wouldn’t be good for my own Christian maturity and growth. So, I stayed at home and watched my husband’s (at that time we were dating) church online every Sunday. At that time though, I was fairly content. I missed being in church, but I loved sitting on my sofa, catching the service online, fixing breakfast whenever, and being able to chat about it with my husband later in the afternoon. It was a pretty good set-up in my opinion.
Now, my husband obviously had his issues with that. He mentioned various churches that I could try, but I always declined, perfectly content to just watch his church online. Plus, I loved to point out how much I was learning through my own personal Bible studies and our conversations, and I thought that was sufficient. Well, during those 3 years, at some point, the Lord really convicted me about the whole situation. In particular, He highlighted the fact that His body was full of many members who were all joined together and joined to Him. None of these members were isolated from the rest of the body, and basically, I was spiritually amputated from the body, while trying to be fully functioning and actually grow and thrive in my state. Now, it shocked me. It shocked me even more as I began to consider an actual amputated limb, say for instance this finger. (Trust me, there were a lot more graphic images) How long will this finger live? How long will it continue to thrive? It looks okay now, but how long do you have to wait until it shows signs of decay?
The fact is, this finger isn’t going to last long when it has become separated from its body. I mean, we know that when a limb gets severed, you have to pack that thing on ice and rush to a hospital just to see if it can be reattached and saved. If you aren’t quick enough, then you are down a limb. Now my question is this:Do you demonstrate the same urgency when you are separated from the body of Christ?
I don’t need nobody, but Jesus…….a LIE!
In these days, I’ve grown more and more concerned about people who have a mindset of “as long as I have my Bible and Jesus, I don’t need no church”. Besides the horrible grammar, it is dangerous to assume that you can and will be okay, spiritually speaking, disconnected from the larger body of Christ. Now, there may be special circumstances for some people, like being a missionary in a foreign country where there is literally no church present. Or you could be living in a place where no church is actually preaching true doctrine. Things happen, but in the Bible, we are exhorted to seek out fellowship with other believers all the time. In my year in Colorado, I remember a dear family would literally travel 2 hours, one way, just to get to church on time. And they were doing really good with that because before they had to travel 2.5 hours one way! I always sat in amazement on Sundays watching them come in the church early (if you know my husband, we were already there early) each Sunday, while people who lived 5 and 10 minutes away were almost always running late. It was incredible to see their diligence and devotion to the Lord first and foremost, but also to see their devotion to the Lord’s body, His church. They loved the body of Christ, and truly, they embodied these verses from Hebrews:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25
These verses tell us that we have to think about how we encourage each other and stir each other up to love one another and to do the good works we should be doing as believers. We are specifically told not to neglect meeting together. This “meeting together” is the fellowship of the church. This isn’t meeting up at Starbucks with your Christian friends or catching a movie together, but literally coming together in the corporate worship of the church, even if you find it to be a little inconvenient sometimes. And it says that we should be doing this more and more as the “Day” draws near……what day? Oh yeah, as Christ is nearing His return, which would be a little closer every single day, we should be coming together more and more often. Now, one could consider, why is that necessary? And I think the reason is pretty clear if you are reading your Bible. The days are growing more and more evil, and the enemy is out to deceive and distract believers any way he can. We need each other’s eyes and ears to help us stand guard against the attacks of the enemy. Kind of like the Spartan phalanx in the movie “300”.
King Leonidas explained that every soldier covered the other soldier to make the unit impenetrable. Thus, if someone is standing alone, they have no protection. Everyone needs everyone. So it is with the church. Though, we may not see the inherent worth in ourselves, or in someone else, in the wisdom of God, they are essential to the entire body. They are literally necessary because the body cannot function well without them. Consider this passage from 1 Corinthians 12:
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. – 1 Corinthians 12:14-25
Thinking about this, I know that we oftentimes as Christians don’t fully get how essential every person of our church is. A lot of times we take for granted the people who do the most mundane and unnoticed tasks (i.e. the people who make the coffee, fold the programs, unlock the doors, clean the bathrooms, clean the sanctuary, etc). Sometimes, we find that certain people can be a bit annoying with how they always jump in and put their two cents into every conversation. We even undervalue our own work and contribution in our own churches just because we think that it isn’t that big of a deal. This happened to me personally when we left our Colorado church family. Having been gone a year, we had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with one of the elders and his wife over a quick lunch as they traveled through Louisiana. We had so much we wanted to catch up on and not enough time, but the one thing that they mentioned was that, they had yet to find someone who clicked the PowerPoint projector slides as well as I did. I will tell you, I fell out laughing because I thought it was absurd! I mean, the slides just give you the words to the songs, and you click next when you’ve sung the words. In my mind, it was a pretty pointless responsibility that I never took that seriously. Yet, for them, it meant a lot, and it was important. And when we left that lunch, I realized even more how important that “pointless responsibility” was to the whole church, and it became a reminder for me that no work within and for the church is pointless or insignificant in the eyes of God.
Wrapping this up
I say all of this to just emphasize again that you need the church; we all need the church. And the church needs all of its members to be connected, alive, growing, and contributing to the whole body. We cannot become content being alone with just ourselves, our Bibles, and Jesus. And if you are feeling content not being a part of a church, you are being grossly deceived by the enemy, and I personally encourage you to repent of your sin and seek out a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, and Bible-led church immediately! Being an active part of a church is one, extremely practical way that you demonstrate that you are actually abiding in Christ, because you abide in His body. Even if you don’t see it all right now, you need the church, and the church needs you too. It needs your gifts, your skills, your insight, your redeemed personality (emphasis on the redeemed part…lol), whatever you have to contribute, whether a little or a lot, the church needs you, and you need it.
May the Lord continue to open our eyes to the manifold wisdom He has chosen to demonstrate in the formation, expansion, and edification of His Church! And may our love for the church continue to grow!