Have you ever done something so many times that it began to lose its sense of purpose? Like brushing your teeth, or using sunscreen, or saying “I love you”? Have you ever become so familiar with someone that you began to take them for granted? For some, the habit of attending a local church has lost its sense of purpose. It is no longer a valuable practice. For some, the local church seems to no longer be an important part of their Christian life.
The decline of dedicated membership to a local church family for one reason or another was a concern that the Apostle Paul addressed to the Hebrew Christians:
Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer.
Hebrews 10:25 The Contemporary English Version
Here are two basic reasons why I believe it is not only important, but it is imperative for you to be attending, and be an active participant in, a local church:
First, you can’t fulfill your God given purpose without the local church.
If you know anything about me, I am all about God’s purposes being fulfilled in the lives of people. The local church is the place where God’s purposes are discovered, developed and deployed. I believe that God’s purposes for your life are directly connected to God’s purposes for the Church, and if you don’t continue to maintain that connection some of God’s purposes will not be fulfilled. I believe you will never truly become fulfilled in your life with God unless you are a part of and planted in a local expression of Himself, His Church!
In the Bible the church is described in many forms, and the one I want to focus on for a few moments is the church as a body.
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
I Corinthians 12:27
I never realized how important my little toe was to me, until one day I broke my little toe. Our bodies have individual members that have their own function, but they are all connected and dependant upon each other fulfilling one common purpose – to keep us alive and healthy, so we can fulfill our reason for being on this earth. The same is true with the Body of Christ. We have individual members that have their own function, but we must be connected, we must be working in harmony, we must be mutually dependant upon each other so the Body of Christ is alive and healthy fulfilling our reason for being on this earth.
I believe you will never see God’s purposes fulfilled on this earth while you stay isolated from other members of the Body of Christ! You were created for fellowship! You were formed for family! And, no one can ever be truly fulfilled alone! You need the church and the church needs you!
Secondly, you’re spiritual life is dependent on the local church.
In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
Romans 12:4-6 The Message Paraphrase
In your body, the natural mirrors the spiritual. When an individual member of your body becomes disconnected from your body, the body may still live, but the member will surly die. Because, each member, no matter the function, or importance, cannot exist on it’s own without the body. Following Christ includes belonging not just believing and once conceived, if you want to live, you must become connected. Your life in Christ, your development as a Christian, your health, your maturity, your growth, your destiny, your purpose – all are dependent upon your connection to the Body of Christ!
Nothing has hurt Christians more than this independent and individualistic culture that we live in today. This do for me culture, this me and mine philosophy has produced more impoverished and malnourished Christians than in any other time in the history of the church for one simple reason; many live like spiritual orphans.
Many live spiritually homeless, and then wonder why, they lack the necessary elements to live the life that Jesus said they should live. I have discovered over the years that the first sign of spiritual decline in a Christian’s life is inconstant fellowship with the Body of Christ. A Christian without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock and a child without a family – unnatural, unhealthy and will only end in decline.
Your life in Christ is personal, yes, but it is not private. The Christian life doesn’t just mean you are committed to Christ, it also means that you are committed to other Christians! Being part of a local church means you are committed to your brother’s and sisters in Christ, not just in theory, but also in reality! You need the church and the church needs you!