“In Him the whole structure… grows into a holy Temple in the Lord. In Him you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21-22)
We end our discussion (of the reasons why we should all be actively involved in a church) with a couple of essential understandings…
I have heard more than a few people say something like: “Hey, I don’t need to go to church to be a believer in Jesus.” And they are certainly right. Church attendance is never required for our salvation.
But to believe in Jesus really means that we believe in what HE believed in – and He believed in The Church. “Christ loved The Church and gave Himself up for Her.” (Ephesians 5:25) Jesus didn’t just die for individual sinners… He died to bring all those individuals into ONE Family – His Family. True salvation places a yearning within us for the fellowship of Christ… AND for the people of God. They are a matched set.
If we don’t understand that Jesus came to institute a glorious Church… we don’t really understand why He came.
That churches have problems is a fact. But the problems of churches do not negate the purpose of God. And that purpose is spelled out for us “…that now, through The Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 3:10) That manifold wisdom involves “the unsearchable riches of Christ” now “brought to light” within God’s redeemed people (3:8-9)! The great plan of God, “hidden for the ages”, has been to live in and work through people who have an eternal connection with Him (all through Jesus!).
This people with an eternal connection is made up of individuals working as ONE. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, on God and Father Who is over all, through all, and in all.” (Ephesians 4:5-6). We just can’t afford to downplay the significance of WHY Jesus came to redeem us.
Lastly, while we do not need to be involved in a church to be saved – we DO need to be involved IF we want to grow in Christ. In our verse for today, unity in the Body and growth go hand in hand. Ephesians 4:16 also points to the same thought. Growth is dependent on ALL of us being together, working as ONE – God in each of us, working through each of us under the banner of ONE faith.
There are a couple of good reasons for this. First, we need each other to “see” what we cannot. We all tend to be blind to our own issues and faults (even if we are trying to see them). It is invaluable to have the assistance of a loving brother or sister to help us to see what we cannot. “Speaking the truth in love” is the canopy of Christian accountability – and what we all so desperately need in all our lives. When each of us “has each other’s back,” a fertile ground is created for discovery and growth as led by the Holy Spirit.
A second reason is not so obvious. We actually need each other’s flaws so we can become adept at displaying God’s character. When every one is perfect, we don’t need patience, or perseverance, or reliance on extending grace. People’s issues (within the Family) become the means whereby we learn how to apply what the Spirit is teaching us about love, forgiveness, grace, and loyalty.
In the end, The Church is God’s idea, His provision and the means of fulfilling His purpose in every generation. If we choose not to be involved in church, what does that really say about our level of commitment to God and to His purpose?
If the real issue is what would God want to tell you about why you should go to church – the ultimate answer is… because He wants you there.