Many times in my life I have heard people say, “I don’t need to go to church, I can worship God right here in my home” or “I don’t want to go to church with all those hypocrites, me and God are good.” I not only find this slightly humorous, because most of these people can’t even tell me simple books of the Bible but I also find it extremely dangerous for two reasons. Either these people are unbelievers who think that their mere existence qualifies them for glorification with God or they are born again believers who have a very poor understanding of what the church is and its importance to Jesus. Either way, we at the Lazarus Design want to explain what the church is and why it’s important to be a part of it!
The Church is Not the Building, it is the People
When we use the expression, “I’m going to church” we are already wrong. The church has never been nor will ever be a physical building. The church of God is the people of God. To say I am going to church is like saying I’m going to the people. Just this small grammatical error has had a tremendously negative connotation on the people of God’s purpose. Because we have made the Church a place instead of a people, we separate the two in our lives. For example, many believers choose to go to “church” on Easter Sunday and Christmas morning. I like to call these people the nod to God group. These people, like so many others, get dressed up nice, put on their best behavior, grab that dusty unread Bible from the dresser and get ready to suffer through a sermon for an hour waiting desperately for Sunday lunch or the football game to follow. During this the nod to God group must make sure to act like a church goer, talk like a church goer, dress like a church goer and worship like a church goer so that everyone is fooled. Once the service is over they can put that Bible away for another few months until they have to go to “church” again. Sound familiar?
Don’t you see what is happening? The Church was never meant to be a place where your behavior changes and the mask comes on. What starts happening is the day to day life of the believer begins to become separated from the Sunday morning believer. Believers start to have this mental divider between Sunday morning and Monday through Saturday because on Sundays we are supposed to be followers of Christ but after the service its back to the same old person of the world. Wonder where the hypocrite accusation comes from? “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 We are God’s chosen people, holy and set apart but you want to know why Christians have forgotten that? Because we were never meant to GO to church, we were meant to BE the church! This is a small grammatical change with eternal consequences. The born again follower of Jesus was meant to be the church not just on Sunday mornings but 24/7 Sunday through Saturday. Christians, change your language because it’s killing the purpose of the Church of God. We aren’t going to church, that’s what we are; we are going to worship Jesus with the Church! That’s all Sunday mornings were meant to be, the people of God gathering weekly to worship God, fellowship with one another and take care of the poor and needy. By saying we are “going” to church, we are robbing ourselves of our purpose and creating a divider between our Christian selves and our worldly selves. The Bible tells us there is no more worldly self-left in us! That old man died when we put our faith in Jesus and we have been born again to live for and serve Him 365 days out of the year, not just when we “go to church.” “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” Romans 6:5-7
You see Church, we are more than a building and our lives are more than being righteous actors on Sunday mornings. There is no power in that, it’s just pretending. I tell my youth kids all the time, if our church building burned to the ground, the Church would meet under a tree and be just as powerful as ever. Jesus told Peter this, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 Let’s remember our true purpose believers, love God with all of your being and love your neighbor as yourself. That is a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly task. That being said the way you look, talk and act Sunday morning should look identical to the other six days. Don’t go to church, be the Church.
The Church is Important to God, Jesus Died for It
Anyone who says worshiping with other believers is optional does not have the slightest comprehension of what the church is and how important it is to Jesus. Remember Jesus died for the Church, it would be unwise to take that lightly. The writer of Hebrews had to address this problem in the early church. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 The Church does extraordinary things for believers and sinners alike, which we will get into later. The love and desire Jesus has for believers in God cannot be overstated. Perhaps the greatest example of the relationship between Jesus and the Church is in Ephesians 5.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the Husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24 The first part of this passage is addressed to wives, the church, and their relationship with their husbands, Jesus. Just as the husband is the leader in the household, so Jesus is the leader in the relationship with the Church. In my previous post I discussed the essential need for the Church to preach the Word of God. If a church family is to thrive it must be wholly submitted to Jesus’ authority and His Word. Our job is to love Jesus, listen to His spirit, follow His commands and follow Him. Just like a lovely, Biblical wife should be to her husband. Now many strong willed woman in my day have turned up their nose at the word submit in this passage. They usually relate submission to being a door mat that is trampled on by their husbands. I always laugh because not only do they not understand submit but they also don’t realize the husbands have it much harder than wives in this relationship! First of all submission is not slavery, it is understanding authority and submitting to that authority to lead you. We all submit to someone or something in this life. If I have to submit to someone, it will certainly be Jesus! Submission is the purpose of the Church in this relationship.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:25-28 Now we get into the husband’s role which is really Jesus’ role. Husband’s jobs are literally to love their wives to the point of dying for them! Jesus took the nails that should have been ours. He loved us enough to suffer and die for us so that we could have eternal life. There is no greater love than this! That is the perfect picture of what husbands should do for their wives in a marriage. Now back to the submission issue. It is far easier to submit to someone who is willing to die for you at a moment’s notice isn’t it ladies? Husband’s jobs are to uplift their wives, love them and present them without blemish. This is exactly what Christ is doing to the Church on a daily basis! See why the Church of God is so important? Do you see why having fellowship with God’s people is essential to the walk of a Christian?
The Church is extremely important to Jesus; He proved that by laying down His life for it. To refuse to have fellowship with the Church of God is to insult God Himself. He paid a heavy price for the salvation of the Church and Jesus was that price. Don’t downplay the importance of the Church and how important it is to Jesus.
Jesus is the Shephard, the Church is the Flock
It is interesting to me that sheep are one of the most unintelligent animals on the planet and yet God consistently refers to us as sheep! I do believe God is trying to make a point here that we need to understand. Sheep by themselves are not going to survive long. There are too many dangers, snares and wolves for a lone sheep to thrive in this world. With no shepherd for guidance or older sheep for advice, a lone sheep will fall prey to the roaring lion that is the devil. There are two main parts of this relationship, the shepherd and the flock.
The shepherd, who is Christ, is best explained in John 10. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:11 A shepherd does three things for a flock; vision, guidance and protection. A shepherd is taller than the flock. He has vision and clarity that the sheep just don’t have. His memory and knowledge of the landscape allow Him to make good choices on where water is and green pasture will be. He guides the flock to these restful places so long as they follow him. He will lead them calling to them with his voice that only they recognize. “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10:3-4 While guiding the flock the shepherd is constantly on the lookout for potential dangers on the horizon. Wolves and lions coming to scatter the flock will be stopped by the shepherd and any sheep that strays from the flock will be guided back to the flock by His kind hand. Without the shepherd the flock has no vision, no guidance and no protection. A flock without the shepherd is doomed in this world. However the flock that follows the good shepherd will enter His rest and thrive in this world.
The flock are God’s people, the Church. Psalm 23 is a great example of this relationship. “TheLordismy shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.” Psalm 23 When in the flock of Jesus following the good shepherd we are promised to not want, to find green pasture, to have our souls restored and to walk in paths of righteousness. Even in the presence of death itself we have no fear for our savior’s rod and staff comfort us. Revelation tells us that Jesus will rule the nations with a rod of iron and all will submit to His authority. There is perhaps no greater picture of how the Church benefits from Jesus than this passage of scripture. A sheep that is alone, separated from the flock and not following the good shepherd is easy prey for a predator, and that is exactly what Satan is. Stay with the flock Church! It is only in the presence of Jesus that you have true protection and security!
I hope this article has been helpful to you and you better understand the importance of the Church of God and its relationship with Jesus! Feel free to use this article in anyway it helps and share it with as many people as you like! God bless you and keep you as you continue to strive toward Christ!
Your brother in Christ,
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