Last week I talked about the fact that Jesus loved the church so much that He died for her, and that the implication is that when we say we love Him, that we also love what He loves. But today I want to talk about the fact that it isn’t enough to simply not dislike the church, or even to claim some affection for it. We are called as Christians to be a part of the church.
In marriage, a man takes a wife and the two become one (Genesis 2:24). In the same way, when Jesus died to purchase the church as His bride, He gave Himself to us in an intimate way, and we are now one with Him through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is why the Bible continually says that we are the “body of Christ” and He is the “Head of the Church.”
Because believer’s are all automatically included into this on a spiritual level, then it becomes necessary to engage this on the physical level as well. Here are three reasons:
1. Being a part of the church demonstrates a submission to Christ.
First and foremost, the Bible tells us to be a part of a local church. “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).
God tells us to be a part of the local church because it is necessary to encourage one another in the course of life and discipleship, especially as the times get progressively worse as we approach the return of Christ.
2. Being a part of the church is vital to our spiritual life.
We are the body of Christ. A physical body is a highly complex set of systems working together for the mutual benefit of the body as a whole. For this reason, you can’t cut off a part of the body and expect it to grow and thrive. If you cut off your thumb, it will die.
In the same way, the fellowship, teaching, encouragement, discipleship, and even the rebuke that comes with being a part of a church is not just a good thing, but it is a necessary thing for the continued growth of a believer.
Is it possible to be a Christian and not part of a church? Yes. Is it possible to be a Christian who is growing and thriving in your relationship with Christ without being a part of a church? Doubtful. I haven’t met that Christian yet. If you want to grow in godliness and pursue Christ in the way He asks, you have to be a part of the church. But before this gets too self-serving…
3. Being a part of a church is vital to the life of the church.
Not only is the church vital to you, but you are also a vital part of it. In the human body, even the most insignificant body part has a purpose, and when removed, causes damage to the body. Sure, the body may survive, but not as healthy as it would have if it kept the removed part.
Where many Christians struggle and then justify their lack of church involvement is that they do not feel that they are serving a purpose there, and then once that is mixed with other feelings of frustration or being ignored or abused, it becomes easier to disengage. But no matter how easy it is, or how justifiable it may sound, both sides suffer for it.
On the flip side, those believers who are the most engaged in the life of the church, encouraging others with the Gospel and enjoying the fellowship with other believers, are usually the most satisfied with their relationship with Christ, and grow into godliness as the fastest rate. The love better and serve better, and they look the most like Jesus in the world. And both sides are better for it.
Let me close this two part series by saying this: right now, pre-return-of-Christ, there is no perfect church. They are going to let you down. They are going to hurt you. They are going to anger you. And they are going to do many of these things without ever realizing it. This is because the church is filled with people just like you. The church is made up of sinners in need of Grace. But the church was God’s idea, and He doesn’t make mistakes. So I will ask your forgiveness on behalf of the church. We want to be better, and we are working on it. Will you come along for the ride?