And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24–25 NRSV)
In his book, Church, Ministry and Sacraments, C.K. Barrett makes this perceptive observation:
‘in the New Testament the church is at the same time central and peripheral’. (p.9).
It is peripheral because the heart of New Testament Christianity is Christ, the gospel message and the salvation that his vicarious life, death, resurrection and ascension has achieved for humankind. At the same time it is also central in that there is no such thing as a conversion which does not lead to belonging to the church.
Yes, Christians are a part of the mystical body of Christ, the universal church, but the idea of belonging to the visible church in one of its local manifestations can often be absent in people’s thinking. It’s the idea that, ‘I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian’, and so belonging to a local church becomes an optional extra for many people.
This is not the New Testament approach; rather it is a product of modern individualism and anti-intuitionalism; attitudes that have not just affected the church but also political parties, and other voluntary organisations.
Being a Christian is a corporate matter not purely an individual, private matter.
God’s aim is not to save us as isolated individuals but to bring us into his family. To become a child of God inevitably implies that the other children of God become one’s brothers and sisters, that one has become part of God’s family. This family is composed of those who love one another; it is not to be like a dysfunctional family that never meets.
So why come to a local church, especially when you don’t feel like getting out of bed and making the effort to mix with others?
Here are a few reasons to consider:
‘Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendour.’ (Psalm 29:2)
‘with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ (Ephesians 4:2–3)
‘Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.’ (1 Peter 4:10)
‘The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.’ (Ephesians 4:11–13)
‘Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.’ (Philippians 4:6)
All of these corporate activities build the body of Christ and give glory to God – I look forward to seeing you in church.
Father, thank you for your church in which we can grow, serve and worship you. Cultivate in us a love to join together in your presence.
Have a good week looking forward to coming together,