We live in a very ‘me’ centred culture. The prevailing questions we ask ourselves are; “what do I want?” or “what is good for me?” Everything is geared towards being individualistic and considering others is way down our list of priorities
This can influence our decisions concerning our commitment to the church we attend. We may be of the opinion that if we have been going somewhere for a while and it now doesn’t suit my needs, it’s ok to move on and look elsewhere. This is commitment only when it suits us.
This is not exclusively a 20th century viewpoint of course. In our humanness our natural inclination is to be selfish and “look after number 1”. In fact we may find that the vast majority of people wouldn’t consider this to be a selfish viewpoint at all.
However when we become Christians this all changes, as we hand over control of our lives to Jesus Christ and submit ourselves to His authority. Our mindset now is to please Him. We also become part of His body ‘the church’.
Membership is vital
Some would argue that when you become a Christian you do become part of Christ’s ‘universal’ church, which of course is true. They would also say that nowhere in the bible does it command that you should join a church, which is also true. But to then make the assumption that it is not necessary to join a local church is like adding 2 plus 2 and making 5.
In the rest of this post and in the next one, I want to argue from the bible why joining a local church is not only necessary but absolutely vital, not just for you but also for the other members of the church you are joining. Pay special attention to this post if you are in the following 2 categories:
- You stay at home for ‘Church’, subscribing to God TV or listening to preaching podcasts and worship services online. You are well fed but you are accountable to no-one as your contact with other Christians is minimal.
- You attend a local church but have never committed to whatever joining process is required. You may be well acquainted with a few people but for whatever reason you have not fully signed up.
For everyone else, I hope to show you what a great decision you made by joining your local church and hopefully inspire you to get even more involved. My hope is also to help enable you to engage in discussion with people in the above two categories. If you are not a Christian, please read my previous post on ‘the gospel’ – discover the God who loves you and join a local church!
God’s chosen people
Looking at the ‘big picture’ of the bible we see throughout that God has chosen a special people to have a relationship with in order to demonstrate how great He is to the whole world. This is of course a very special relationship. There is very little in the bible about God’s relationship with individuals, it is almost always in the context of His people. When God does relate with an individual, it is usually so they can pass on a message to His people.
In the Old Testament we see the formation of the nation of Israel (God’s people) and his interaction with them, how he blesses them and disciplines them and shows them great patience, wooing them back to Himself as they turn away from Him again and again. When we proceed into the New Testament we see the development of the church no longer made up solely of the Israelites, but now through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to include Gentiles and in fact anyone who trusts in the finished work of Christ to save them. This ‘Church’ is God’s possession, also called Jesus’ bride and will be made up of people from every tribe, tongue and nation. This ‘universal’ church is now made up of many local churches that you and I are to be a part of. The New Testament closes with the glorious wedding supper of Christ and His church as they prepare to spend eternity together in the new heavens and earth. If you are a Christian, however hard life may be now, this is the wonderful future we have to look forward to.
Next time I will look at the reasons (and benefits) as to why we should join a local church.