As we continue discussing why we go to church, I must state that I agree with much of what Mark Boone stated in his post. The church is the bride of Christ and it is made up of all believers past, present, and future. It began with Adam and Eve and has included everyone in history who believed in the Messiah who was to come and who believed that Jesus was the Messiah after he died and rose from the dead.
We are commanded to go to church. It is a mandated throughout Scripture. But I do not go because I have to or because I am commanded to go. I attend church because I want to do so. Why would I want to go, you may ask, to a place with flawed people, to a place where there is bickering, to a place where there is frequent disagreement and where people are constantly hurt? Because I am in need of the same grace that every other flawed person there is in need of.
God’s commands for us are always for our benefit. The church is flawed, because we are flawed. But the church is also the place where we are drawn together, where we are healed, where we are comforted, and where we are encouraged.
All Christians are given spiritual gifts and they are to use those gifts for the good of other believers. What better place to use our gifts to build up the body than the place where the body gathers together.
I think that the idea of going to church just to get something out of it is flawed at its core. Christianity is about sacrifice and giving. When we go to church because we have something to give, then God uses the church to meet the various needs of all those in the church.
Holy Trinity Church, where C.S. Lewis attended in England
There is something intrinsically spiritual about being with other believers. In Ephesians 4, Paul states: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
When the members of the local church bear with each other in patience (meaning that we bear with each others flaws), and remember that we are all saved by the same Spirit, and that we share the same Lord who died in the same manner (the Cross) and shed the same blood for each of us, and that we are all baptized by water into the same church, and that we all call God the Father in the same way, then we find a unity together that allows us to recognize our worship in a communal way.
When we come to church to worship we realize we are not alone in our walk of faith. We are not alone in our calling to share God’s kingdom. We are not alone in our struggles with temptation and sin. We are not alone in our desire to love God and obey him. We are not alone in our desire to make sense of God’s Word and to apply it to our lives. When we come to church we see others who are just as messed up as we are, and we can help each other and we can extend grace to each other just as God has extended grace to each of us.
Of course to do this, we must also realize that going to church is not about how we dress. It is not about appearing self-righteous, and it is not about being judged when people realize we are not perfect. These kinds of problems are what typically turn people away from the church.But in order to change this culture all we really need to do is change the way we ourselves deal with these kinds of issues. When someone shares that she is depressed, we comfort her instead of judging her. And we remind her that God is with her in her struggle and that we are too. When someone shares that he is all messed up and has made poor decisions in life, we remind him that we have all made poor decisions and we do what we can to help him get things back on track. We also remind him that God sent his Son for us because of our poor decisions and because we are all messed up.
In short, I love the church, because I love God. And I believe that just as God is always giving to us, we should be giving in our actions towards the church. When we think seriously about what God has saved us from, we have no other choice but to extend grace and walk alongside others who are still (along with us) going through the process of being made holy.
The church is a spiritual place where we receive spiritual encouragement and spiritual blessings. God uses the church to fill our hearts with love for both God and other people, and he equips us there for the work of ministry that we are all called to in our daily walk of faith.
I cannot stress enough how important I believe it is for us to be involved in the local church. It is the place where we are spiritually nourished and where we nourish others. It is the place where like-minded believers draw strength to face a world outside of the church that has no respect for the God of Creation. The church is our hospital. It is where we go to receive medical attention for the wounds we receive for standing for Christ before those who have no respect for his name.
I love the church and I encourage you to love the church. No church is perfect, but our savior is, and it is because we love him that we regularly visit the hospital he set up for our benefit, for our safe haven as a refuge in a fallen world.