While you have begun meeting again as a church, there are dear ones staying at home… they don’t believe that there is a need for them to be physically present when the church gathers. They argue that their relationship with God is “private” and no one else’s business. But we know that the gathered church was God’s idea, not ours. And if that’s true, then we also know that He never intended for believers to live in isolation from one another. But why?
- First, it’s clear that the very life of Jesus indwelling you (as a believer) longs to connect with the life of Jesus found in other believers. In the description of the earliest church, we read that “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers… So continuing daily with one accord” (Acts 2:42, 46). The earliest believers loved one another and they loved being together through the week! They couldn’t get enough! According to the apostle John, this is one of the marks of any true believer: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” (1 John 3:14)
- Second, we need to remember that Jesus makes Himself known to groups in ways that the individual Christian will miss on his own. As the earliest church gathered, we read that “fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:32). When the church comes together in His name, He has promised to be present! (Matthew 18:20) There are ways you will experience God with a serious group of Christians that will not happen when you are alone.
- Third, in a world desperate to experience authentic love and care, Jesus wants you to experience His love through the practical ministry of His body – the church. (44-45) Luke again observes that “all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45). You have spiritual, material, and emotional needs that God will only meet through a group of believers.
The church is the vital human component of His plan to broadcast the gospel and transform lives across North America and around the world. Sin causes all humanity to be experienced as broken and messy. We will have problems in the church, but you can be encouraged by what He is doing “behind the scenes” – pray for your church and trust Him!
Jesus made you to live in a spiritual family! When the church gathers, it is not a group of consumers “getting their needs met” because of the church’s leadership and programming. It’s your family — you are joining your spiritual fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters.
Pray with me for your church and the churches in your area. May the Lord do a deeper work in us so that one day (soon) this might be the best way to describe our churches: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).