Our English language can limit us at times when reading the Bible. We often use only one word for things that the Greeks or Hebrews would have multiple words for. For example, the Greeks had numerous words for Love, to define the various types of love. Like for the love of a man toward a woman, compared to the love of family, the Greeks would have two different words to describe such a love.
Well, there is a similar issue for our english word “Church”. Let me explain.
When I say “I am going to church”, I am referring to the building where we go on Sundays and collectively listen to sermons or read the Bible together. That place is called the church, and the original language word for that was “synagoga”.
On the other hand, there is also this word “ecclesia”, which defines the Body of Christ, or the collective body of believers. The word “ecclesia” is literally translated “The Called Out Ones”, which is referring to Christians. We Christians are “The Church”, with a capital C.
The Bible clearly states that believers should meet together regularly for prayer, worship, teaching, fellowship, and mutual encouragement. In Luke 4:16 we read that it was Jesus’s custom to go to church every week. Now this is Jesus we are talking about. Do you think He went to church so he could hear some new teaching, or follow some charismatic preacher? Of course not.
Jesus did not cut and run when the church did not meet His standards. And no church did meet His standards, as evidenced by the fact that the religious leaders often tried to kill him, and Jesus spent most of His ministry rebuking common practises of the times. Jesus would not have left the church because the preacher said or did something He did not agree with. Jesus would not have left the church because somebody in the congregation annoyed Him.
No, Jesus did not run from the problems in church. He brought the solutions.
For us, involvement in a local church is vital to our growth in Christ. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about it.
Acts 2:42 – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The early church fathers had no clearly defined doctrines, or theological libraries. They had no pastors handbooks, or denominations. They simply fellowshipped with each other, and God over food and discussion. And there was nothing boring about it. They had no problem having fun while doing it!
Matthew 18:20 – For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
This type of worship can happen anywhere at any time. We do not need to confine ourselves with in four walls or under a steeple. Anywhere the body of believers will gather to devote themselves as the early apostles did, church is happening.
Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
This is just one reason why it is important to be part of a church fellowship, for however imperfect it may be. God has chosen to reveal Himself to the earth today through the Church, and He has given us a taste of the Kingdom to come through the kindness of the Body of Christ. The Church exists to help and serve each other and the community. Our spiritual family is forever. If blood is thicker than water, then spirit is thicker than blood. If we feel alone, it is because we have refused the extended hand from God that is manifested by the Body of Christ.
Hebrews 10:25 – not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
There is a big difference between church and staying home alone watching Christian TV as an alternative to fellowship with the Body of Christ. I have heard believers who have disconnected from church say that they do fine by themselves, because they worship God alone and don’t need help. While I encourage all believers to worship God all day, every day, without dependence on a pastor, believers are fools to think they are just as well without a church fellowship. Any who would skip church is cutting themselves off from the more that God has to offer, and have believed a satanic lie. If Satan can not get you to blaspheme, then at least he can get you to dissipate the possibility of a deep relationship with Christ by getting you to discard fellowship with believers.
John 13: 34-25 – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
And this is church. This is what we would cut ourselves off from as we shop from church to church looking for the perfect pastor, or perfect service.
Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Quite simply, we are stronger together. Would you rather fight this spiritual warfare alone, or within an army?
When we assimilate in a fellowship of church, we gain access to a family of love, and a plethora of wisdom, to help us on our own spiritual journey. It is our loss if we decide to cut ourselves off from the church. If Jesus Himself was not too good for church, then we certainly are not either. If we have convinced ourselves otherwise, it is because we allowed Satan an open door to attack us, and have cut ourselves off from the instrument God has chosen to use to fight Satan with today.