As I have been studying 2 Corinthians for Sundays at Reservoir Church I am struck over and over again by the importance of the church gathered. The assembly of saints that goes through all of life together, thick and thin. It is the place of sanctification, the bullhorn of the glory of Christ as our lives are transformed in community.
While in the North American church we might give lip service to agreeing to this, how we live is terribly different. We choose churches and stay there only while our preferences are prioritized and as for lasting community, the moment we feel uncomfortable we bail. This is why “church discipline” is nonexistent and why sadly many of us hover in immaturity before Christ.
I had occasion in recent weeks to talk with someone about choosing a path other than avoiding the church (or their specific church). When speaking truth brought tension it was easier to “worship somewhere else.”
I get it. We find ourselves living in the cancel culture of boycotting people that don’t share our opinions let alone people who might call out our sin or encourage us to choose things that are better for us.
The thing is, in Christ this is what you were meant for. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians says that church is a collection of redeemed people “called to be saints together.” As in not alone, but for the long-haul together with people we can build love with so outsiders will know us by our love for one another. And the thing about love, real, good love, is that it some times refines us and stretches us. And when we miss it, when we refuse it, we wither.
This was illustrated to me this week as I was packing lunch for my kiddos. Grabbing some grapes from the fridge I noticed that all the grapes that remained on the vine where firm and healthy, the choice ones. But the grapes that at the bottom of the bag, separated from the bunch, were those fading and spoiling.
This is a picture of us apart from the church. Now there are many reasons to choose a church well in our day, but when you find one, stick with it. Through thick and thin. It is for your good. And it is for the glory of Christ.