In my first post on the church, I looked briefly at `what is the church?` In establishing the fact that the church is not a building, rather a group of people who have confessed Jesus as Lord, now I want to try to answer the question, `So what?` Or to state it a bit differently, `Why would this group of people be important to the average follower of Jesus?`
I think the first thing to look at is Jesus’ attitude toward the church. A person who says they follow Jesus should have a similar view as Jesus when it comes to the importance of the church. Ephesians 5:25, the apostle Paul makes a link between the relationship between a husband and a wife, and that between Jesus and the church. `Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.`(NASB) So, Jesus loved the church so much He willingly gave Himself up for it like a husband is to do for his wife. So I think we can at least say that the church (again, not the building, but the group of people who assemble themselves together for the sake of worship and edification) is extremely important for Jesus. To put it another way, His whole death on the cross for sin and His triumphant resurrection was so that people could place their trust in Him, be forgiven, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and be baptized into His church. It is this group of people that will be presented in heaven as His bride (Revelation 19:7-9; 21:9-11). So, we can easily conclude that this group of people is extremely important to Jesus.
Another passage to consider is 1 Corinthians 12:27. Now the whole chapter 12 is a good reference. But, the main thought I want to consider is in verse 27. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” This verse is stating that each follower of Jesus is a part of (“member of”) the “body of Christ”, which is a metaphor for the church. So, if this is true then we can make a clear implication. For the follower of Jesus, the church is as important to them as a body would be for a part of the body, like, let’s say, the arm. Without the body, the arm dies. So, for the arm, the body is vital. This is one of the main metaphors we can see in 1 Corinthians 12:27. So a clear lesson is, that for the individual member, the church is vital, and so is vitally important. Why is that? Well, the church is not only a group of people we worship the Lord with (which is a primary reason to gather together as a church), but it is also how we edify other believers with our spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4), is it how we are edified in our faith to walk closer with Jesus. Another proof text for this is Hebrews 10:24-25 (which my Bible study teacher read this morning in my Life Group as we discussed the need for fellowship as followers of Jesus).
So, in answering the question, “Is the church important?” the one who trusts in Jesus for daily living must answer a solidly: YES! So, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, a follower of Jesus should make it a major priority in their life to be a part of a local church in order to worship with other believers, edify other believers, be edified by other believers, seek to share the gospel together, stir one another up to love and good works, and to picture the reality of what a follower of Jesus professes: that they are part of God family, by faith in His Son, Jesus. Heaven will be one huge church gathering, so it should be pictured in small for here and now.
In my next post, I will look at “Purity in the church.” But until that post, I would love to hear your thoughts on this one. God bless.
What if we are committed to, and engaged with, the people of the church rather that being so focused on the geographical staged assembly of the church (I am not referring to the church as a building as noted in your piece above)? Put another way, why is the Sunday meeting with others so significant and valued vs the intent to care and engage each other on a daily or contextual basis?
Would this not be equally appropriate and significant? By stressing the geographic setting vs the relational significance of believers supporting each other do we not marginalize some peoples spirituality and spiritual experience? I hear a lot about joining the church service but very little about joining Christ in daily life the SUnday meeting is but a small component in following Christ. I only see in the NT people saying “follow Christ and break bread together” not “go to Church on Sundays”
Hey digs! There next weekend with the girls. Looking forward to it… and Sunday service 😀
Those are good thoughts Dean. It is very important to be engaged with believers on any day of the week for mutual edification. But the NT also speaks of gathering as a body on a regular basis (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:18,33; 14:26; 16:2; Hebrews 10:24-25). So, both should be sought after. But, in all practical purposes, usually the Sunday gathering (or whenever the corporate gathering is for a particular group of believers) is where one can best be informed about the needs on other believers, so they can be ministered to during the rest of the week. Also, the corporate gathering can help guard us from surrounding ourselves with only the believers we like versus all the body. One can still hide in the corporate gathering, but there is usually a greater vulnerability, to where we can be edified in our faith. Sure, there is a danger of being misinterpreted or judged. But, what can one expect by being a part of a group of sinners, saved by grace. If all members of the body of Christ sought the goal seen in Ephesians 4, then the corporate gathering would be important, as well as breaking bread in smaller groups at other times. Actually the big push in today’s Christian world for not being a part of the corporate gathering is not from a close look at Scripture and a greater commitment to the Lord, but the fruit of individualism that permeates our culture. So, in my opinion, a follower of Jesus should be committed to the gathering of believers. Now, that could be a “church service” (even though I am beginning to not like that wording), house church, or a Bible study that is seeking to live out the great commission, not just talk about the word.
Thanks for the comment Dean. Miss ya dude. Give the girls a hug for me.
You guys stop fighting and and start breaking some bread!
McDonalds good for you guys! I`m in! lol. I love the comments. In all seriousness, I am writing this cause I do want to get a better grasp on the church, according tot Scripture. I do not want Renaissance to be just another cookie cutter church (unless the cookie cutter is scriptural). Dean, I talk to people all the time who share your what you commented. I think it is good to plow though this. I am writing this little serious in order to help me think through it all. My next one will be a bit more complex (purity in the church).
Can we do bagels instead of bread?