Why Go To Church
Two opinions are crippling the testimony of Jesus on the earth. Some believe that you can be a complete Christian without ever going to Church, while others do not want to be considered Christian because of Church. If Church is just seen as an organization, an enterprise, an institution or a theoretical set of people who believe a certain way, then its core being is missed. Whenever believers gather in the name of Jesus, Church happens, and it is supernatural. It is more than human because the resurrected and declared Son of God with power, Jesus, has promised to attend. That is the fundamental reason for you and me to go also.
Let’s explore this thought in some practical ways.
1. When I go to church, I am joining a supernatural community.
Belonging to community is both a human need as well as a divine intentional design. We are wired for community. When God created Adam he observed that it was not good for man to be alone. He created Eve to be a suitable helper and companion. We are created to be social. We need to belong. While many are finding that expression through social media, that virtual reality cannot take the place of being with someone face-to-face. The Christian experience gains something significant through physical togetherness.
During a visit to Moldova, I took a tour which featured exploring the living quarters of a reclusive monk. He lived in a cave by himself in very austere conditions, without any of the amenities that we would be used to. He looked very unhappy that we were there intruding, although the tourist dollars must have mitigated his social discomfort. After most of the crowd had moved on, I decided go back to have one last look. When I came back to him he was on his cell phone. Every soul hungers for social interaction even when the attendant pain tempts us to escape to a lonely sanctuary.
The Bible tells us that we should not neglect the assembling together. That should be enough of a reason to go to church. Nevertheless, here are some compelling reasons to follow that advice.
The last phrase in the book of Mark always catches my imagination, “…and the Lord worked with them…”. God has designed that we should be fellow-workers with Jesus, giving us the amazing privilege to work with the Master. Earthly efforts are enjoined to fulfill eternal purposes, with consequences that go beyond our lifetime. What could be more significant? Earthly efforts are supernaturally empowered. What could be more awesome to experience? The plan of God has been designed to be a community effort. We need each other to fulfill his mission for earth. He said we are the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and a city set on a hill. We can be salt by ourselves and light by ourselves, but we cannot be a city by ourselves.
Paul compares the church to a body which has many parts, but it is one body. I am not keen on having any part of my body disassociated from the physical me, and I am sure that Jesus is not either. Jesus loves His body and considers every part significant and wants every part to be in its proper place. A body is only a body when all the parts come together. The fact that in all our diversity, we can still be as one in itself testifies to the truth that Jesus is the sent Messiah.
Here is another amazing reason to go to church. Jesus made a promise, that when we are gathered together in His name He would be there with us. That is a powerful promise that distinguishes our coming together as “church” from any other social gathering. He is with us when we are together in a different way than when we are alone with Him “in the secret place”. Coming together in the unity of His Spirit has the special meaning of being “in agreement”. That is a place of promised power where all things are possible. There is literally strength in numbers when it comes to overthrowing devil-dominated circumstances through the prayer of petition.
History tells us the whole known world was impacted by the gospel in one generation. It was not just a powerful word spoken that transformed, but the lives and interactions of believers modeling the love of Christ. It is not just what we believe, but how we live it out. The test of the gospel comes when we have to face the conflict that often happens in confines of close relationships. The early believers continued steadfastly in fellowship (community) with one another. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul reminds everyone that the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is the oil that soothes friction, and enables us to become of the same mind and attitude as Christ. If we walk in the light as He is in the light, then (and only then) we have fellowship (community) with one another, says John. Coming to Church puts us in the place to discover supernatural fellowship. We get to experience the mystery of God putting together an unlikely collection of dissonant instruments to play a symphony of the harmonious sounds of heaven.
Finally we need the community that happens when we come to church for each of us to grow up personally into the fullness of the nature of Jesus. In Ephesians, Paul says we grow when each part functions as it was designed to and by what is supplied in the joining together.
We are not just any community. We are the Church which is His Body, the fullness of Him Who fills all and is in all.