Being involved in a local church is essential and irreplaceable in the life of a Christian. Some things seem easier to do on our own, but Scripture tells us is that you cannot be a Christian by yourself, you cannot love Jesus rightly if you hate His church, and loving God’s people in the local body is a way of loving God Himself.
You cannot be a Christian by yourself.
Some believers think following Jesus is easier on their own. But a central part of your relationship with Jesus is your relationship with other people. Proverbs 18:1 tells us, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”
God appoints other Christians to lead you, rather than you trying to figure everything out flying solo. Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “ And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
There needs to be accountability from the body of believers in your life. You cannot do Christianity alone.
“And let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works, 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” (Hebrews 10:25).
Early believers gathered together. We see in them a regular, maintained pattern of gathering (Matthew 18:17; Acts 2:42, 11:22, 15:41). This organized religion, the Body meeting together to be led and to fulfill the “one another” commands of Scripture, is the means God has appointed for His people to not be alone. It’s a place for us to be equipped by leaders for the work of the wider ministry.
You cannot love Jesus if you hate His church.
This is a church made up of the very people He died to save.
“By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35).
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 14:20).
Trip Lee, in his sermon on “The Significance of the Church,” reminds us that when we were adopted into the family of God, we did not only gain a Father. We gained brothers and sisters who we will spend eternity with, and we have an opportunity to serve the Lord with some of them while on earth.
You cannot run to God and run away from His family at the same time. You might say, “I don’t hate them, I just don’t want to see them ever.” Cold indifference qualifies as hate here.
Growing up, I was always pretty close to my dad. When I fought with my siblings, though, I knew that would put distance between us. I knew I couldn’t approach my dad in the same way when I was fighting with my brothers and sisters, because he loved them too and it made him sad when we didn’t get along. I knew that he wanted us to make up. When I was closer to my siblings, I was closer to my dad.
In the same way, God has invited us into a family. If we reject His family, we also in some way reject Him.
Loving God’s people is a way to love God Himself.
We know that the Lord wants us to love one another (John 13:35). And we know that obeying His commands is a way to love Him (John 14:15). So loving God’s people well is part of loving God well.
Attending church can be hard sometimes. I do not want to pretend like it is not. Sometimes, churches stick to unnecessary and unhelpful traditions for no good reason. Sometimes, people in the church hurt us. Sometimes, people in the church unjustly discipline us.
But we cannot push God’s people away because we think they are wrong about how to worship or they preach boring sermons or even if we have been hurt or mistreated by them. When we turn away from the church because of these things, it reveals that our motivation for going to church in the first place was purely selfish.
It is ridiculously easy to believe the devil’s lies that we know best. It is easy to reject the church from the arrogance of our hearts. Being part of the local body of believers takes humility. Don’t neglect the value and importance of gathering with local believers, though. Don’t neglect to meet together (Hebrews 10:25). The local church is a means that God will use to keep you.
What is your responsibility in the local church?
To show up. To be present. To serve. To love the members even if you don’t like them a lot of the time.
But first and foremost, you have to show up.