There’s a movement afoot today born out of the desire to be free to think, act, and worship on our own. The growth of the community of the unchurched has its roots in the belief that Christianity is only about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and that we can worship and serve him without being a part of a local body of believers. The church that Christ built (Matthew 16:15-18) undoubtedly contains all of those obedient to the gospel of Christ from all human history and not just those who belong and worship with a local congregation, but the purposes of Christ are still to be fulfilled through the combined and organized efforts of believers working together.
Throughout the New Testament, we have plenty of examples of churches taking care of the needs of its brethren as well as organizing evangelizing efforts within their immediate community and abroad. The churches in Colossae, Thessalonica, Ephesus, Philippi, and Corinth were all individual bodies with elders who demonstrated a new way of living to a lost world. But they didn’t just lock themselves inside their homes or a local place of worship. They worked together with other saints and apostles like Peter, Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas to model the truths and values of God’s plan. They showed the love, compassion, and generosity that Jesus taught and encouraged one another to be the kind of disciples that Jesus calls us to be.
With all of these things in mind, it’s easy to see how important the church is in the eyes of Jesus and why he so desperately wants us to love his bride. So I must ask…Do you love the church the way Christ love the church? Do you love the saints and join together to acknowledge the hope you have in your salvation (Colossians 1:4-5)? Are you missing out on the encouragement and teaching you could receive if you attended worship with a local body of believers who follow the truth of God’s word? I ask because we can’t say we love Christ and disassociate ourselves from his bride. He gave himself up for her so that we, the church, may be sanctified and holy in the sight of God (Ephesians 5:25-27). We can’t just accept a portion of Christ and throw out the part about loving others (John 13:34-35), forgiving (Ephesians 4:32), and speaking to build up, even if those we speak to are difficult to be around (Ephesians 4:29). When we put on Christ, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and with that new identity comes membership in his church.
I know that many consider what we do in churches today to be far from what Jesus intended. I realize some have become jaded due to the legalism found in many congregations or the lack of truth being taught from many pulpits. I understand that worshipping with others requires that we work with people who are difficult or who may have a weaker faith than we do. But I want to invite anyone reading this to make the church an important part of your Christian walk. If you do not attend anywhere currently, seek out a congregation built upon the truths found in God’s word. Be sure your attitude is right and you’re looking to serve and not just to be served.
If you are already faithfully active in a local congregation, rededicate your heart to treating your role in the church with more excitement and seriousness. Commit to loving those who you worship with and become an integral part of each other’s lives. Jesus has left us with a very important mission (Matthew 28:18-20) and it is now our responsibility to speak the good news to the world…..together.