Let me begin by saying that I am a strong advocate of “church” attendance. I believe we do not have, on our own, enough body parts to function as a church, for ourselves, or our families. I use the term “body parts” as a reference to 1 Cor. 12:12-31 where Paul is pointing out that the church is made up of many members and each one has a synergistic value in supporting the whole. We need to be in fellowship with like-minded believers for accountability, encouragement, and training. I believe the church is, in fact, worth the hassle.
However, I also recognize how most churches can be so very bad in demonstrating what they so openly profess – love, grace, and inclusion. I would offer three considerations for seeking a church for worship and fellowship, even at the risk of all the negatives that come with the commitment.
1. What is Church
The word “church” has become lost in our vocabulary. The church can mean everything from attending the Satanic Temple to handling snakes with a group of primitive fundamentalists. One needs to find a church that they feel genuinely welcomed by and comfortable in. For a Biblical Christian, this is a church that holds to traditional theology. However, welcoming means accepting everyone, but it does not always mean accepting their behavior. Church, in my view, should be a place that lovingly challenges one to seek God’s grace through faith in Christ. This includes teachings that offer Biblical standards of morality that may run counter to today’s views.
2. Church is a Group of Sinners
Second, the church is nothing more than a group of sinners meeting together for accountability, fellowship, and worship of God. The emphasis here is “sinners”. Born-again believers need to look inward at their own sin nature before subjecting others to their critical attitudes. Jesus made that point clear with the woman caught in adultery when He challenged those ready to stone her by saying,
John 8:7b “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
3. Church has Bad Apples
Third, a church can be filled with loving and caring people but it is the self-righteous few that attack the vulnerable. The reputation of the whole church congregation is harmed by these few outliers. That is sadly true of individual churches as well as whole denominations.
A Biblical Christian Perspective
As a born-again believer, one has two choices. We can choose to isolate ourselves from active fellowship with others and passively read our Bibles and listen to online sermons. Or, we can accept the reality that “church” is no better than the Christians that fill the pews every Sunday, each holding their own biases and sinful behaviors.
The pandemic we have just lived through offers an excellent experiment in sanctification for the believer. Ask yourself the question, am I, and is my family, closer to God after spending over a year isolated from other Christians in active, regular attendance in church?
Romans 12:5 so we though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
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