The devil continues to ravage the body of Christ by convincing people it is normal to move around from church to church for any and all reasons. We seem not to recognize the effect this has on the overall body of Christ. I have written about his tactics in the previous few blogs so take some time to “catch up” before reading this one.
Recently I was pondering how some people carefully search for the right dentist, doctor, accountant, tax person, chiropractor, or insurance agent and then keep going to them even when it is not always convenient or cost-effective. I know people who will drive two hours one way to have their taxes done each year because they have someone they trust and others who drive over an hour to see their chiropractor monthly. The truth is few things are more valuable than a trustworthy relationship. And when you find a good thing you treat it well, remaining faithful.
As I pondered this, I naturally gravitated to the Church and wondered if we take our “churches” as seriously as we do other things in life? Or maybe we do not search for the right people in life and just take whoever is available or convenient. If this be the case, do we take this same approach to church? When we do not build strong relationship with a doctor, dentist, tax person, or the like, we will move from person to person without finding stability in those areas of life. This same lack of stability can and does happen in the church when we move around from church to church not building trustworthy relationships.
We must remember the devil is working hard “within” the church since those outside are already “without”. He deceives people in the body of Christ into believing they can go to church anywhere, leaving them with a shallow and casual approach to church membership. With this attitude we fail to comprehend the importance of church and do not invest in relationships. When God puts us in a body of believers, we must acknowledge His goodness, foster and maintain relationships even when they are not convenient or if they are hard.
The devil wants to deny us our rights and privileges in the body of Christ and he also wants to get us to deny the depth of relationship provided us through Christ. Our world system opposes close and intimate relationship in all areas of life whether health, education, banking, and financing. The more we treat these things like “business as usual” the less investing we do at a personal level. The Church must not fall victim to this same worldview.
I have written in other blogs that God is all about relationship. Everything He does is motivated out of a deep, intimate love relationship. From this motivation He created His Church, expecting us to be all about relationship as well. Just as we are faithful to keep great people in our lives that do our taxes, check our teeth, help with financial decisions, and the like, even when it is not easy or convenient, we should be faithful to the body of believers we are in relationship with. We must acknowledge, accept, and affirm His Church is what He says it is and not something we have made it. This acknowledgement motivates us to recognize, admit, and accept church is real and true, filled with people who are not always perfect, but still family! Our response to God’s motivating love is to take note of one another, receive and appreciate each other, and affirm their importance to us in church life. Can you imagine how incredibly healthy a church would be if everyone was in the business of acknowledging God and one another, then voicing their appreciation of each other?
Once we acknowledge the Church for what it is then we need to accept it “as is” knowing it is God’s possession and He will have His way with it (with us) in His time! God has some great “pet” names for the Church and as you can see, they all intimate close relationship. He calls it His “Bride”, “Family”, “Body of Christ”, “Believers”, “Children”, “Sons and Daughters”, “Saints of God”, and the “Fellowship” to name a few. (John 1:12; John 3:29; Acts 5:14; Romans 8:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2,9; 12:27; 14:33;2 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 3:15; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Timothy 4:12; Revelation 21:2,and many more)
Each of these names describes ALL believers but is also an accurate depiction of each congregation insinuating relationship, intimacy, unconditional and unending love because of ACCEPTANCE! For example, a “bride” is a beautiful representation of eternal marriage. “Family” and “body” imply loyalty and commitment between family members through good and bad times. Our “bodies” must work together rhythmically and continually to live, move, and function. The name “Children” implies obedience and submission to authority and also a sibling relationship which brings competition, cooperation, jealousy, but also deep love and commitment to one another. “Saints” are people set apart for God, belonging exclusively to Him. What a special place we have in Him!
This special place is filled with love for God and each other. Love is not an option! 1 John 4:21 “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” In God’s economy, when we receive Him we get each other. 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Let us not limit this reference to the universal Christian Church but apply it to our churches, the people we are most intimate with. When we limit it to the universal church we can easily boast unity because by not living daily with the universal body we do not witness shortcomings. Having fellowship with one another in our congregations is not as easy because we see the “dirty laundry” when we live in close communion with one another.
The Greek word for “fellowship” here is “kononia” which means “the intimate bond of fellowship that unites Christians”. Of course having intimate bonds of fellowship with Christians outside our congregations is holy and right but it is also necessary “in” our churches. We welcome others to this fellowship and we commit to not walking away when koinonia gets hard. Koinonia exists because of Jesus! He IS the intimate bond which unites all believers. We are responsible to keep the intimate bond together lest the letters in the word “unite” are switched around and we “untie” the intimate bond Jesus created in us.
Let us agree to see the good in the body of Christ and then stay faithful to our churches, knowing how much God loves His Church!