Sunday is no longer a special day but just another part of the week. We have sporting events on television, children are in year round sports, hunting and fishing have become a priority over worship. Even work has begun to take over Sundays and when are families supposed to worship together if Sunday is no longer sacred?
Some no longer make Church a priority because they have either been hurt by people in the church or because they no longer find church relevant for their lives. Sometimes when people feel guilty they say things like “I used to go but then a Pastor did __________” or “The church is full of Hypocrites” or “The Pastor always begs for money”
Whatever the case for people being busy, hurt or because of their work schedule people no longer find going to a House of Worship as a priority.
Matthew 16:15-18 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.
We must clear up confusion as to what the church really is because as we see what the church really is it will show us the importance of us coming together and what that really means.
A) The Church is the people of God not a place
The church has always meant the people and not the building. When the Church began they did not have a building when they started because they were all leaving the temple and began meeting in homes.
Because they came together for the common purpose of worshiping Christ and His forgiveness of sins through His death and resurrection, they became a family. Growing up we used to sing the Hymn “The Family of God” as we closed out each service. It was a song that signified what the church was supposed to be, a group of people coming together from all walks of life and becoming a family.
Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Some versions say family of believers and if you think of the church as a family it will make more sense to you how we are to live and why we need the church. So if you are going to change your view of the church then you have to begin thinking of it as a healthy family with all of its attributes.
1) Love one another
John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
A healthy family does not have to be told to love one another because it comes naturally. Yes they may disagree and sometimes because of selfishness they may have arguments but when it comes down to it a family will stick by each other because they love each other.
2) Meet each other’s needs
Acts 2:44-45 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
My Children do not have to worry if they are going to eat or where they are going to sleep. A true church makes sure that those who belong to the family take care of the most basics needs that people have.
3) Accept one another
Romans 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
When I get together with my brothers and sisters I do not wonder if I belong there I know that I belong and also that I am wanted there. I am accepted not because we share the same political or even theological views but because we are family. (This is not to say that we compromise on some of the basic tenants of the faith especially that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and apart from Him you will spend eternity in Hell. see John 14:6)
4) Encourage one another
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Life is tough and we need to encourage one another.I am not sure I would have made it all these years if it were not for many of my brothers and sisters in Christ sending me a note, a phone call or even a text encouraging me. We all need that encouragement and a family should provide that for each one of us as we face life’s challenges.
5) Show Affection
Romans 12:9-10 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
First thing you do with family is you have to get all your hugs in. You walk in the door and you see people and you have to greet them. God created us to connect with others and showing affection is part of that. I know not everyone wants a hug but a handshake or a pat on the back goes a long way.
Romans 14:18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
We all want to know we are doing a great job. We all want to know that others approve of what we are doing. When the world is full of rejection it is the family that should be there to stand by our side and to let us know we are heading in the right direction.
1 John 4:18-21 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 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[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
We have been saying this about God but if you believe God is going to yell at you then you will stay away from him. The same is true with family. Romans 8:38-39 says nothing can separate us from the love of God. That should be the same with our church family as well. I have security around my family because I know that they love me no matter what lies have been said about me or even when I mess up.
8) Rejoice and Suffer together
1 Corinthians 12:26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Families walk through tragedies and glorious moments together. It is families that have bonds that run deep because of the pain and joy they experience together. When you walk through joy and pain those emotions will tie you to people for life.
9) Teach, train and correct
Being a part of a church family is to be more than just a celebration service every week but it is a time to prepare everyone for the weeks or months they will face. I teach, train and correct my children to prepare them for life. In the family of God we are to disciple others to raise them up.
Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Training is hard and although we accept this in athletics, exercise and even academically we somehow forfeited this mindset when it comes to training people for the work of the ministry. Like anything, you do not get it with one or two times but you have to constantly keep doing the skill to make it a habit. So Bible memorization, Scripture reading and even sharing your faith are not things that come naturally but have to be develops with time and practice.
The correcting part is what most people have a problem with today because they have bought into the lie that no one is allowed to tell them how to live. Matthew 7:1 Judge Not. This was not about outward appearance but motives. It was about thinking you knew what the other person was thinking. That verse does not say if you saw a brother in Christ doing something wrong that you cannot say something to them.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[b] whom you are to judge? 13 God judges[c] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
More mature believers are to pass on their knowledge and point out areas that I may not see. They are not to mind their own business and just let them live their own life. They are to be part of helping their brothers and sisters grow in the knowledge of the Lord in their actions as well.
The show intervention is about people with problems that do not see they have a problem and their family has to intervene with drastic measures to save them.
What would the outcome have been for the people if the family would have intervened earlier?
What if instead of waiting till everyone saw it as a problem they did something about it in the early stages?
Why should I go to Church?
1 Corinthians 12: 14-20 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[e] yet one body.
As a Christian you will never be complete without the church and the church will never be complete without you. Have you ever thought the churches in America are limping along not because of sin in our society but because we are missing people who are supposed to be our feet and legs?
B) The Church is the dwelling place of God
We have already established that the church is the people of God who are to be a family but there is something more spiritual about this thing we call the family of God. My earthly family we are connected because we grew up together but the family of God will spend eternity together. This Spiritual connection is something that the Bible calls the temple of God.
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,[a] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[b] the Spirit.
Household: The Family of God
Cornerstone: We have one common factor Jesus just like me and my siblings are brought together because of our Mom.
Joined together: Everyone has a place where they are an exact fit
Dwelling place for God: The Reason we meet because of this unique spiritual experience that takes place.
We said last that you will never grow spiritually without the church but you will miss out on the presence of God without the Church.
This is not to say that the Spirit of God is not inside of you but you miss out on something special that God designed by not being part of a local church family.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
This is one of the most precious promises we have in any circumstance we are in that no matter what you are going through God has not left us or forsaken us.
1 Corinthians 3:16 -17 Do you not know that you[b] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
The “You” in this passage is plural meaning we together are the temple of God. This is the promise of God that as we come together He is there in Spirit. So the presence of the Spirit of God is both singular and corporate but they both must be practiced to experience the fullness of God.
Dr. Jerry Bridges said if you scan a list of scriptures with the word worship in them the majority refer to corporate worship.
“I can worship God by Myself” and you should
“I can study the Bible for Myself” and you should
“I can do outreach on my own” and you should
But you should also come together with other children of God and experience God together. This is what it means to be a part of the family of God.
Psalm 34:3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Why should I go to Church? To experience the presence of God.
C) The Church is Christ in the flesh
If you ask people who do not go to church about Jesus most of them have favorable things to say about Him. They will talk about His miracles and His love for those who were in need.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[a] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Recently one of our Ambassadors was killed by the very people he was trying to reach out to. As Ambassadors for Christ sometimes we will pay the ultimate price trying to reach out to others. The Apostle Paul experienced this very thing when people he loved and was reaching out to turned on him.
Philippians 3:17-19 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
Regardless of the outcome we are called to reach out to this world as Ambassadors and be Christ in the flesh.
1) To tell about Gods love to the world
Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
A witness just reports back what they experienced and as we experience the love of God we will report it to those who are around us.
“…the church is under obligation to give the whole world an opportunity to hear the gospel and to accept Christ. We know that not all the world will respond to the gospel call, but the church is by duty bound to give the whole world an opportunity to know about him and to accept his salvation.” (Henry Clarence Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, pg. 332)
2) To Care for those who cannot care for themselves
James 1:27 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Visit means more than to just stop by it carries the same idea as one who oversees the church. So if you think of an over sear of the church and all the duties that implies then you will understand what the word visit means. You are to care for them in anyway possible or needed until they are through what they are walking through.
Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
All of these things take effort and time. Widows and Orphans were the neediest people of the day because they did not have assistant programs like we have today. The church is called to reach out to those who need help and the gospel.
Nehemiah 6:15-16 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God
When the people of God, do the work of God, then people will see the hand of God.
There was no miraculous encounter about what Nehemiah did other than God supplying his needs through the King. All of the efforts of Nehemiah could be described by his leadership and cooperation. But notice that the verse says that the people around saw this as something coming from God.
3) To keep the world from destroying itself.
When Jesus was on earth He healed and reversed a lot of sin sick people. Some people have even said that because Jesus healed people unconditionally He did not care about their sin. Some have even tried to justify certain sins because Jesus healed people that were in sin. Jesus was showing the world that He was there to reverse the effects of sin and by no means was saying to keep on sinning. He healed them so that they could be restored and hopefully turn to Him. If we the people who are called the church would live our lives the way we are supposed to it will keep others from doing things they shouldn’t do. We are called to stand up to certain things because if the world were to have its way then they would wind up destroying themselves.
Matthew 5:13-16 You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
“The righteousness of the life you live will attract attention, even if that attention regularly takes the form of opposition. “ (D.A. Carson The sermon on the mount pg 31)
We establish laws in our society to protect people sometimes from others but also from themselves. (Speeding/ Seat Belts/ helmets, so forth) New York established a law keeping people from drinking big gulps. This is the same state that says they want the government to keep their laws off their bodies but to also pay for their abortions. It really is confusing at times the way people believe but in a world that says there is no absolute truths then they will make things up as they go.
Christians are doing more in this world than will ever be noticed. Shoe Boxes to children that have nothing, Disaster Relief without government assistance and showing up and doing a better job than the government could ever think of doing. Hospitals that were started by Christian organizations and relief around the world that goes unnoticed. It has always been Christians who have stepped up and not only met the challenges but provided the relief when no one else could or would.
“Few Worldly communities realize the true worth of the people of God in their midst. But surely, not many of the ungodly would want to live in a world where there were no Christian Influence.” (Henry Clarence Thiessen, Lecture in Systematic Theology, pg 332-333)
So Why Go to Church? Because we are the Church and together we can experience the fullness of God that will in turn help us fulfill the call of God for the sake of the world.