Inseparable, p. 106
Finding a church can be extremely difficult. My husband and I have had a couple major relocations in the past two years, and because of that we’ve had to join new churches twice in the past year or so. I’m not gonna lie– it stinks. In Nashville, we were a part of our church there for about a decade. I didn’t ever have to “church shop” in Nashville because when I moved there, Aaron was already an active member so I just joined right in. (And thank the Lord, because you can “church shop” in Nashville for years simply due to the sheer number of them available.)
In WA, our options were a bit more limited. God graciously and immediately pointed out the church He wanted us a part of when we very first moved to the northwestern part of the state. When we unexpectedly had to relocate to the Seattle area a year later, things weren’t as easy. We visited a few congregations who were all great, but we knew we wanted to be where God was calling us and not just where we would be comfortable.
It could have been very easy for us to get hung up on things about these churches that were all about us and our own preferences. By God’s grace, we knew that what we needed more than anything was a group of friends who would become chosen family. We knew we were supposed to be a part of a church body that needed us just as much as we need them.
No church is perfect, because no church has any perfect people in it. Of course there are very good reasons to leave a church or to not join a particular one. When that happens it can be very easy to give up on church altogether. I know it isn’t uncommon for Christians today to reject the idea of needing to be a part of a local church. And believe me, I understand the baggage of “organized religion.” But when we Christ-followers refuse to be a part of the body of Christ, we’re not walking away from the confines of religion; we are walking out on the family.
Take a moment to read all of 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Then reflect on this portion of our Sister chapter:
The body of Christ works in smaller segments throughout the world via local churches. You are meant to be a part of a smaller unit of the body, and your role is crucial. Think about it like this: the body of Christ needs you, whether you’re a hand, a toe, or a spleen. If you think your presence and involvement in a local church doesn’t really matter that much—that you’re doing just fine listening to sermons online and praying with a friend—you’re really missing out. And the church God might want you to be a part of is missing out, too. If you’re disgruntled with your current church because of (fill in the blank) and thinking of leaving, I would ask you to just be sure that it is for a legitimate reason. Otherwise, it is a bit like lopping off a limb and leaving the body to bleed out. Pardon the gory illustration, but I think it’s the best way to describe how vital each of us is to our churches whether or not we want to step up to that responsibility.
Being part of a family means we’re going to have some conflict along with our connectedness. Things are going to get messy. And really, they should. If you’re involved with a small group of believers and you aren’t getting into the depths of what is really going on in their lives, you’re not experiencing the body of Christ as it is meant to be. You’re not really living as the body of Christ. Each member, each “organ” of the body, needs to be fulfilling the role he or she was made for. If God has made you a compassionate person, you need to be listening to people’s stories and offering them empathy. If you are constantly reading the Word and feel you might explode if you don’t share what you’ve learned, you may need to be leading a Bible study. The point is this: the Spirit of the living God is within you, working in you to encourage, admonish, challenge, sharpen, and comfort others who are in Christ. I don’t know what that will look like for you individually. But I can say with 100 percent confidence that you need to be doing it.
We joined our current church not too long ago, and God has already done some amazing and incredible things among us. We can’t wait to see what else He has in store for us. We expect that we’ll have some challenges along the way, but we know we will work through it and we won’t be alone.
This week’s assignment is to read Chapter 8: Dwelling Occupied. Hang on through this chapter– we’re going into some pretty deep concepts as we enter Part 3 of the book: Now… But Not Yet.
This week’s discussion question:
How has God worked through you in your church this week?