The Standard January 8, 2020
A hospital for the sick. A haven for the hurting. An imperfect place for imperfect people. A family gathering spot. Somewhere for seekers to find answers. A place to be loved. Somewhere to be challenged. A refuge from the storm. A community where others are eager to have you share your talents. A place where you encounter people whom you enjoy and with whom you agree. A place where you find people who test your patience and with whom you disagree. Somewhere to learn and grow. A support group for believers and unbelievers coming to ask questions. Somewhere that ministers comfort the afflicted but afflict the comfortable. A place where the One who unites us is far greater than the things that could divide us. Church.
One of the best things we could do for ourselves and for our families is to make church involvement a top priority in 2020. In the Book of Acts and in the Epistles we see again and again that the early Christians, many with flawed thinking and improper behavior, were God’s chosen vehicles for sharing love and good news with the world. They were bound in tight community due to their common faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Together they were learning about the Kingdom of God and how best to live. They had problems just as all faith communities have problems, but they grew with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and faithful leaders committed to the Word of God.
In the same way, you and I develop our spiritual lives best when we are deeply involved in the life and ministry of a church. Most of us would prefer not to participate in a holiday gathering via Facetime or a family reunion via Skype. We would rather be in the midst of family and friends, giving and receiving hugs and smiles while catching up face to face. We would miss out on personal interactions if we participated via cell phone or computer. Our online presence would diminish our experience as well as the joy of those who wanted to be with us. In the same vein, we would not be much of a part of an athletic team, band, orchestra or dance troupe if we rarely attended practice. Along the same line, missing worship, Sunday School/small groups or fellowship meals not only hurts us but it takes away from the experience of those who are in attendance. When part of the body is missing there is a void. You and I add something that no one else can offer. We are missed when we are not physically present.
The Apostle Paul writes of the encouragement that being together in worship, fellowship and learning provides. “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong- that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Romans 1:8-12)
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 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.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Michael Cochran, from a small town in Indiana, was fortunate enough to grow up in a church that made a lasting positive impact on him. In his wonderful song called “Church (Take Me Back)” he sings, “Take me back t.o the place that feels like home
To the people I can depend on. To the faith that’s in my bones.
Take me back to a preacher and a verse.
Where they’ve seen me at my worst. To the love I had at first.
Oh, I want to go to church.”
For our best and the best of the family of faith, let’s go to church this year.