So far in our little series we’ve talked about Reading Your Bible and Prayer. Two personal and often private habits that help develop our faith and bolster our spiritual health. Positive Habit #3 however, is anything but private, in fact, it is one of the most public of the habits, Celebrating Community. This habit has many different names or verbiage attached to it: Corporate Worship, Services, Worship Services, Small Group, Life Group, Connection Group, going to church, etc… So, it would stand to reason that there are a lot of opinions as to what it is supposed to be and look like. The truth is there are about as many opinions as there are churches on the way “It’s supposed to be done”. So, I am going to make a WIDE circle around the methods of Celebrating Community and veer straight into the why’s.
As I begin sharing the why’s allow me to first address a statement that I’ve heard many, many times, “You don’t have to go to a church to be a Christian.” This statement is 100% true, salvation is not found inside a church, salvation is found in accepting Jesus Christ’s death on the cross as your substitute for your sinfulness. Just as true is the statement, “You don’t have to go to a Colts game to be a fan.” Interestingly though, if you were given free tickets to a Colts game, with free parking, and free food and you instead chose to sit at home and watch women’s golf (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I would have every right to question the authenticity and passion of your fandom! The same is true of those who claim to follow Christ but rarely find the need or desire to actually join in with others who have the same passion and love to celebrate the one they claim to follow. You certainly can be a Christian without going to church, but you won’t be a growing one, a passionate one, a knowledgable one, or an obedient one. So, here are some reasons why being a part of a local church body is absolutely essential to becoming Spiritually healthy:
- It’s a clear instruction in the Bible. I find it interesting that the first church did not have to be told to Celebrate Community, it was something that they did naturally. They gravitated towards one another and enjoy developing those essential relationship that not only created accountability, but unity. However, as the church began to spread around the world, it became evident that some of the people groups, more than likely because of their cultural backgrounds, had to be taught the necessity of Celebrating Community. So, the writer of Hebrews lays it out in chapter 10, verse 24:
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
- It is a sign that I truly know and love Christ. Yes, you read that correctly, being an active part of a local church is something that identifies or marks you as a genuine believer. Now, again, I emphasize, being a church member/attender doesn’t save you (Eph 2:8:9), but it is evidence to the fact that you are a believer. Look at what the Apostle John, half-brother of Christ, has to say about it:
But, if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all our sin. – 1 John 1:7
- It is essential for my spiritual growth and development. The New Testament writers list multiple benefits for those who obey this command and engage within a local body of Christ. Here are just a few:
- The body is incomplete without me! You are absolutely essential to the growth and success to the local church. Your gifts are not only wanted, they are needed. Just like you as a believer will never reach your full potential on your own, your church will never reach it’s full potential without you completely engaged. Paul says that each and every part of the church is necessary, that no one part is more important than the others, and that only when all of the parts are doing their part, will the church truly thrive:
In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. – I Corinthians 12:22-27
You matter, you are needed, and what you have to offer is valuable to the Kingdom of God! Invest your time into something that literally has the capability of changing your world…your church!
I’ll see you on Sunday,