“Do I have to go to church?”

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A friend posted this on FB today.  “Before I sleep… Do I have to go to church tomorrow to have God still know where I am and check he still likes me?”

I couldn’t help but reply: … but the Body will be lacking without you. Your wisdom, gifts and influence.

Confession:  I LOVE the Church.

Now, I’m not talking about the building, or the events, or the ministries etc.  Although I do love all of those too. I’m specifically talking about the Church as the Body of Christ.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor 12:27)

The existence of the Church is not an invention of man.  It is part of God’s plan. I would love to talk about the essential functions of the Church as laid out in the Word but we’ll save that for another time.

What is on my heart today is the question:  “Do I have to go to Church?”

There seems to be a lot of emotional baggage around the concept of “having” to go to Church.  There is sarcasm in my friend’s post.  And let’s be honest, there are Christians who are pious about their attendance record and judgemental against others.  Can I say:  I’m so sorry!  I’m so sorry if a Christian has been that way with you.  It is NOT God’s heart.  They acted independently and self-righteously.  And the FB thread contains Truth.  God is everywhere, not just in church buildings during church services.

At the same time, I need to say:  Being an active member of the Church is not optional.  Think of your own physical body.  Can the parts just opt out?  What happens if a body part refuses to participate?  It’s called disease.  Either the part gets its act together, gets cut out and/or replaced, or the body dies.  In the Body of Christ, according to the Bible, all the parts are vital and essential.

To be active in the Body is to be connected and interconnected with other Believers.

As 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and Romans 12 explain, we Believers are ALL parts of the Body.  I won’t go into the specifics of each passage because I don’t want this to be a marathon read.  But if you haven’t read these passages in a while, it’s really worth the time to go through them.

Tell me, is another way?  Tell me, am I wrong?  I don’t see how to get around this:  To be connected with the Body involves being part of a local Church – to gather with other Believers, worship God together (with singing or music or other ways), bring your tithes and offerings, use your gifts, study the Word, edify the Body, equip the Saints etc. etc.  Therefore, it seems going to Church is not optional.

The Body metaphor gives an awesome vision of the Church.  Parts engaged and functioning.  The Body moving in strength and beauty.

Question: What is the health of your part of the Body?  Can you ask yourself:  Am I functioning, healthy, engaged?  OR am I withering, disconnected, non-contributing?

Guys, I am a LOVER of the Church.  I love love love it.  And I want to see this Body, that I am part of, being strong and beautiful!  I can’t stay silent when people make remarks about my Body.  And I certainly will not stand off to the side embarrassed about the state of it.  My whole being is stirred up for his cause:

As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  (Ephesians 4:16)

I am so sad that the Body of Christ can look like a freak show to the unsaved world.  I think it’s because it has withered parts.

Ever wondered why there are some Body parts being really overbearing in the Church?  I could very well be because your Body part is disengaged and not bringing the gifting that would bring balance to that other part.  Yikes.

One of the replies on the FB thread included the statement: “Church is there for encouragement and fellowship.”   Um, nope.

Of course, there is awesome encouragement and fellowship in the Church.  But that is not what the Church is there for.  The Church is not like a coffee shop where you stop in and pick up a drink and cookie treat to boost yourself.  That would be like saying the Body exists to meet the needs of the taste buds or some other part.  The Body doesn’t exist to care for itself.  Now caring for itself is one of its functions but that is not why it exists.

So, why does the Church exist?  Just like your own body exists… to live a beautiful life walking with God and serving Him.  The Church exists to live a beautiful life walking with God and serving Him.  Are you a healthy part of that beautiful life?

Please please please fall in love with the Church.  This Body needs every part.  This Body needs you.

Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.   (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Tomorrow is Sunday in the US.  If you haven’t been to Church in a while, I miss you. I may not know you personally, but the Word tells me that my health is interconnected with yours.  Please come back.  We need your unique you!  God made you for a unique amazing purpose.  We are not beautiful and healthy without you.

What are your favorite memories of your life in the Body? What gifts do you see God has given you for the building up of His Church, The Body of Christ?

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