By S.C. Shaw
What is the church, what is the point, why should we care and the dangers of not knowing the answers to these questions? There are some fundamental truths about the church we need to remember or “going” to church will mean very little and make no impact in the world for the sake of Christ. This isn’t something that only the weak or immature Christians have trouble remembering, this is something we need to preach for ourselves all the time because it is easier to live with the wrong mind for church.
What is the Church?
The church is God’s people as a whole, both worldwide and locally. The body of Christ is what the Bible calls the Church. Or the gathered people of Christ. The Church is not a place you simply go when you feel like it. It is not a building or location you must attend to do “church”. We do not meet because we are commanded to go to church. We are the Church, if in fact you are a child of God, and as so we are commanded to meet together because we are the church. We aren’t commanded to go to church but to gather as the church. I know this sounds so simple, but most of us approach the church building, house school or wherever your church meets, with this wrong mindset. But this is how and why we have such a lackluster church gathering every Sunday across America. People coming to an event called “church” that they feel free to come and go as they please with no conviction of what it all means to the glory of God. Church is treated like a grocery store where one can pick and choose what they like or dislike. Where you can go to a different church each Sunday just to make sure you get your fix. But the sweet life you are missing when you get this wrong. Yeshua (Jesus), has so much more in mind when we are called to gather as the church.
What is the point?
So with this new understanding of what the church is, I hope it helps this section make more sense. If the point of church isn’t just a place we go to, but a group of people we belong to, then what’s the point? Why has God commanded us to gather? Or better, together. Why can’t we just have a relationship with God and not have to deal with all the sloppy relationships? Does God really command us to meet together? Hebrews 10:25 “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Ephesians 5:19 “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,”
If these were the only two verses referring the church gathering together it would be plenty to know we are to meet and worship in One voice to our good God. But we see throughout the Bible, God’s people meeting together and see that any follower of God by himself is never condoned or considered a good thing.
God has given us each other as a gift. We will be strengthened, refined, encouraged and grow in Spirit and in truths as we “deal” with one another and grow in friendships. Families are messy. The church is our eternal family, and it is filled with broken people just like you and me. My pastor always says “If you’re looking for the perfect church, you won’t find it. And if you do, they probably won’t let you join.” It’s funny but it’s true.
We are not only gathered together for the betterment of each other but also to worship God with one voice.
Why should we care?
At this point I think it should be obvious why we should care about the church. But I am a slow learner and I’m guessing there might be a couple more out there that needs repetition to learn.
What all this is pointing to is the fact that we cannot be alone. There is no such thing as an alone Christian. There are no Rambo Christians. When you meet one of these people, they tend to be a little off. Their theology is all over the place, they’re usually a little aggressive when their doctrine is called into question. And or they are being swept up by eve4ry new age idea out there. We need other like-minded and fellow believers to keep us in check. We both serve and get served at church. We need correction and give correction. We give and receive encouragement. Not even God Himself in human form was alone. Jesus surrounded Himself with people. All of us are a far cry from being like Jesus. But we are called to practice and become more like Him every day.
This is something that shouldn’t take lots of effort. In fact, if we are growing closer to God then the natural desire is to be with Gods people. To be excited to share in worship to the God who saved us. To need one another to help grow our faith. Now I don’t think for a second that this is normal or easy at first. But that is a natural response to knowing God more and understanding scripture better.
What are some dangers of denying this?
Here’s what I see in churches today. I am a worship leader and pastor. I lead at many different churches all around Southern Orange County. What I see more than anything is the grocery store church goer. What I wish I saw more of is a group of Gods people gathering to raise our knowledge and affections towards Him. We aren’t most concerned with Gods glory; we are most concerned with checking a box of church attendance each week. And it’s not all our fault. The church is doing a subpar job at helping us understand this. Some churches are doing a better job than others but it’s a point being missed all too often.
I don’t think anyone blog post is going to convert somebody’s lifelong idea if what church is. But I do pray that this has planted a seed. I hope you begin to read you Bible more with the eyes of the church. The entire New Testament was written to the church. I pray you desire to be part of that family. The church needs more people that get this. That are willing to love until it hurts. And it’s going to hurt. But it will also be a blessing to you and your church. This is our eternal family that God has chosen since before one second of time was created. Let us go and enjoy it!
I wrote a more in depth look at what the church is and means biblically here.
Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
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