I’m reading, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, for about the 5th time. It’s incredible! Next to the Bible, I encourage every young Christian to read this. It’s not ‘inspired’ but it has a lot of godly wisdom.
I’m on Day #18 ‘A Place to Belong.’ I want to share a some of the quotes from this chapter in my post today. Hope you enjoy it…
You are called to belong, not just believe. Even in the perfect, sinless environment of Eden, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves.
The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits isolated from other believers and deprived of fellowship. The Bible says we are put together, joined together, built together, members together, heirs together, fitted together, and held together and will be caught up together.
You’re not on your own anymore. While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it to be private. In God’s family you are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity.
The church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization. We discover our role in life through our relationships with others. For the organs of your body to fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to your body. The same is true for you as a part of Christ’s Body. You were created for a specific role, but you will miss this purpose of your life if you’re not attached to a living, local church.
This is why the first symptom of spiritual decline is usually inconsistent attendance at worship services and other gatherings of believers. Whenever we become careless about fellowship, everything else begins to slide, too.
Membership in the family of God is neither inconsequential nor something to be casually ignored. The church is God’s agenda for the world. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” The church is indestructible and will exist for eternity. It will outlive this universe, and so will your role in it. The person who says, “I don’t need the church,” is either arrogant or ignorant. The church is so significant that Jesus died on the cross for it.
The Bible calls the church “the bride of Christ” and “the body of Christ.” I can’t imagine saying to Jesus, “I love you, but I dislike your wife.” Or “I accept you, but I reject your body.” But we do this whenever we dismiss or demean or complain about the church. Instead, God commands us to love the church as much as Jesus does.
Except for a few important instances referring to all believers throughout history, almost every time the word church is used in the Bible it refers to a local, visible congregation. The New Testament assumes membership in a local congregation. The only Christians not members of a local fellowship were those under church discipline who had been removed from the fellowship because of gross public sin.
The Bible says a Christian without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, or a child without a family. It is an unnatural state. The Bible says, “You belong in God’s household with every other Christian.”
Today’s culture of independent individualism has created many spiritual orphans—“bunny believers” who hop around from one church to another without any identity, accountability, or commitment. Many believe one can be a “good Christian” without joining (or even attending) a local church, but God would strongly disagree.
The Christian life is more than just commitment to Christ; it includes a commitment to other Christians. Joining the membership of a local church is the natural next step once you’ve become a child of God. You become a Christian by committing yourself to Christ, but you become a church member by committing yourself to a specific group of believers. The first decision brings salvation; the second brings fellowship.