These days, that's a controversial statement. I probably upset a few of you reading this to state it that way. But, right now, I'm okay with that, because I believe it's true. I hope you'll keep reading and see why I state this so emphatically.
If you've read my posts for any length of time you know I write regularly about our need for community, about our need for people we can share life with. As I was writing my last post on this topic, I was struck by how needing each other goes beyond those we naturally choose to create community with.
Those amazing sisters in Christ I was surrounded by in the situations I referenced in that post went beyond just those I intentionally built community with. And they were there in those moments because they are part of the larger church family I belong to. When those I don't normally rely on in those moments weren't there, my church family was still able to be there for me.
It's not just because of that I think we need to be a part of a church somewhere. When I read Scripture, I see the church as something instituted by God. The common arguement that the church is just something created by man doesn't stand. Some of our structures and the way we do church when we're together may be man-made, but the idea of church is not.
All through the letters in the New Testament and all through the book of Acts, there is discussion of the church and of the importance of meeting together. In the face of everything the church of the day faced, they needed each other and they needed the encouragement of meeting together. In our world today, it's just as important.
When I talk about church, I'm not talking about just a group of people we know, and like, and choose to be around. That's a small picture of what the church is.
Church is also about learning from others in the body of Christ who we would not be normally drawn to spend time with.We need the diversity that comes from different life experiences. And that requires us to be a part of a church body that is larger than just our friends and those we are naturally drawn to.
Yes, I would say that it's important to be a part of one of the local expressions of the body of Christ we call the church. Part of the larger group of people who make up the congregations in one of the church buildings we drive by in our communities.
I can't tell you which one you should be a part of. I won't tell you the size it needs to be. I won't tell you the theological distinctives it has to have (I will say that it should be a Gospel-centered, Bible-living church). Those are things you have to figure out for yourself.
I can't tell you that you won't be hurt at some point by the people who make up that church. In fact, I can probably safely say you will be hurt by some of them at some point. But, even when that happens, it's not an excuse to stay away from the church.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."We need to be part of a local church body. One that goes beyond just our friends and those we're naturally drawn to.