This Sunday, we’re finishing our series in ‘Tough Questions’ by thinking about the question, ‘Why bother with church?’. If I’m honest, this is more a question for believers than unbelievers, because almost every Christian at some stage will find church to be hard work. Church can be inconvenient, frustrating, and boring. It can be costly to your time. Church can be messy, and sometimes hurtful. So, is it worthwhile?
Whilst recognising the difficulties of church, we should also see it’s beauty. The Bible uses different metaphors to describe the value and importance of church. It’s described as the bride of Jesus, for whom he has given his life (Eph. 5:25-26, Rev. 21:1-2). It’s the household of God, his family (1 Timothy 3:4-5, 15). It’s a body made up of different members who are intimately connected and dependent upon one another (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Cor 12:12-31). It’s a spiritual house being built by God in order to offer sacrifices acceptable to God (1 Peter 2:5). It’s an embassy for the truth to the world (1 Timothy 3:15). Church may be messy, but it’s God’s mess, his beloved people.
Church is also something that we desperately need so that we grow in faith and holiness. Don Carson says, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation.”
Left on our own, we’ll settle for a tepid and mediocre faith. We’ll create a god who is domesticated and easily pleased – a god that only asks for a portion of our lives and fragments of our time. We’ll have a god who is content for us to cling to our idols or security, status, and wealth.
We need one another to both rebuke and affirm, to challenge and encourage; to spur one another on in the faith, to speak the truth in love. Church is God’s appointed means through which we learn and grow, proclaim and serve. We cannot do this alone. We are left spiritually impoverished if we are not deeply committed to one another.
Perhaps it’s timely that we remind ourselves these truths about church. On the 7th of June, we’ll resume our Sunday services. We give thanks for the opportunities over the past few months to continue to meet online for our services and groups, but these aren’t replacements for our normal community. I know amongst many of us there is a deep hunger to return to church. As we return, let’s prayerfully resolve to deeply invest ourselves in our community for the glory of God.