The question of whether church is an important part of Christian life is age old. Is attendance a make it or break it issue?
The Bible refers to the Church in such an intimate and loving way. Christ refers to it as His spotless bride (Eph. 5:25-27). He likens us to virgins waiting for the bridegroom (Mt. 25:1). If we are His bride then it would stand to be true that we are of one flesh with Him – which would mean we are His body. And we are (Rom. 12:5).
I had a conversation today that I have had so many times before and it hurts me every time. An old friend claims to have a great relationship with God; and I believe him. He says that his private, alone time with God is great, but he doesn’t want to go to church. His relationship with God is fine without it. However, if all we are focused on is our relationship with God then we have missed the point.
In the garden of Eden God created man and lived with him for a period of time before creating him a companion. Why did God create Eve? Surely, the God of the universe was enough for Adam to be satisfied, no?
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18
God found that Adam needed both a relationship with Him (vertical) and a relationship with others who were like him (horizontal).
Church isn’t just about you. Sure, you gain from church. We all should. If you aren’t gaining, or “being fed”, you might be in the wrong church. Pray and allow God to reveal that to you. We should be receiving from the Pastor as he teaches the word of God. We should also be gaining a sense of family, being involved with other believers. The book of Hebrews tells us in chapter 10 not to “forsake the gathering of believers.” That is so you will stay sharp and have others around you to keep you accountable.
You should also be blessed by the worship time.
One of the greatest concerts I have ever been to was a Third Day concert. I don’t even like Third Day, but this wasn’t about them. This was a worship service. It was at a large amphitheater in West Palm Beach, FL and my father and I were given a pair of box seat tickets. The box was located in the center of the pit near the front of the stage. If we turned around we could see the whole place. There was nothing like turning around to see thousands and thousands of people with their arms raised in worship to God.
Recently, my wife and I went with a group of young adults (who we LOVE and miss tremendously) to Miami to worship at a Hillsong United concert. We sat at the tip top of the American Airlines Arena and looked down as droves of people celebrated and worshipped along – all singing in harmony. It was beautiful. But it was not just about us gaining. It was about God receiving – but…
Church isn’t just about God either. God gains when we gather together in church as well. He receives worship when we sing along with the worship team, hands lifted high with our hearts focused on Him. He also gains when we learn from His word. He knows that we are becoming more knowledged, which will allow us to minister better to others.
But church isn’t just about us or God.
Church is about other people too. Imagine for a moment that you are walking down the street and suddenly you see an arm slinking along the ground, Walking Dead style, next to you. Or you and your spouse or friend are chilling at PF Chang’s when an eyeball rolls into the restaurant. It’s a crazy thought out of a sci-fi flick, but that is what some of us look like to God.
When we are not part of a local church body, God sees us as a detached limb or a missing eyeball. We were created to be in fellowship with other believers. If you don’t have a church home, then somewhere, there is a Body of Christ that is incomplete. You are a vital part of a church somewhere.
Your talents. Your gifts. Quite simply, YOU are needed. There’s a church in your area that isn’t as strong as it should be. You may think you have no talents, but God created you with that church in mind. It needs you. It needs you.
I want to address a group who I know are reading this saying,”Well, you don’t know what my experiences at church have been like.” Yes, I do. I have been burned. I have been left thinking, “Wow, I just wasted years of my life.”
I know some of you feel like you were taken advantage of, lied to, mistreated, stolen from.
But, you know, there are problems everywhere. We don’t go to a steak house, get a bad steak and swear off steak forever. Sure, we may try a new restaurant, but we don’t generally blame the particular dish. I find so often that people have the opposite feelings toward church. One, or a few churches turn out to be bad choices so we just stop church all together.
I would really encourage all of you to begin to pray that God will show you where you are supposed to be planted. See, church isn’t just about you. It is about what you can add to the family. I believe life is all about relationships, both between us and God and between us and other men.