Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Need the Church

We live in a day and age where sadly many see commitment to the local church as something that is not for them. Many are so engrossed in work or family or leisure that the thought of being with the people of God is right down the scale of their thinking. Of course for some there are legitimate reasons why their involvement in the life of the church is not what they would desire it to be - problems of ill health, works of mercy and necessity.

In Hebrews 12v28 the writer speaks of offering to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe. It is interesting what the writer then launches in to in unpacking acceptable worship - life in the church - loving the brothers, showing hospitality obeying the leaders. Sadly the imposed chapter break tends to hide the connection a little.

You will not grow in the faith as Christ intends you to do unless you are deeply involved in the life of your local church. God has designed the church to be the arena of our growth in grace. You cannot live the Christian life as Christ intends you to live without active involvement in the local church. So what does active involvement look like? It means being with the church when it meets for worship, for prayer, for outreach. It means using your gifts and talents for the benefit of others in the fellowship. To stay away without due cause is to sin against God, harm yourself and weaken others.

When the people of God stay away from the life and witness of the church they rob themselves and others of opportunity for growth in grace. In the togetherness of the church we see more and more our own sin, our short-comings, our impatience and are thus thrown more on Christ. In the gatherings of the church we learn how to be more sensitive to the needs of others and therefore more like Christ. It is among the people of God that we learn to behold more and more of the glory of Jesus Christ. C.S. Lewis describes this so wonderfully in his book "The Four Loves." In an essay entitled Friendship he writes, "In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity." CS Lewis is stating that it takes a community to know the individual. We will only get to know more of Jesus in the church where the people of God are seeking to resemble, serve and love the Lord Jesus Christ.
So come in, belong, commit yourself wholeheartedly, be there. You will find that amongst His people and under His Word He will change you. Won't that be worth it?