Est. 33AD Part 4: Isolation is Impossible
In parts 0-3 we said that Jesus founded the church, it is a gift from God, it brings Him glory, and because of all this, Christians should become part of a local church.
In a sense, Christians cannot exist apart from the church. By definition, the church is the collection of all believers throughout all time. Through the years, followers of Christ have tried to distance themselves from the church. They have tried to live outside of it and tried to have no part of it. Despite their most conscious efforts, that’s impossible. In their book, Total Church, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis say, “We are not saved individually and then choose to join the church as if it were some club or support group.” In other words, if you are a Christian, you belong to the church.
There are plenty of poor definitions for the term “Christian.” Most of them involve what a person doesn’t do, the fun they don’t participate in, or the mismatched clothing they some how find, purchase, and wear. However, a well-meaning, astute definition of who a Christian is rarely includes their fellowship (another word that has lost its meaning) in the church. To say a Christian is one who has turned from their sin and trusted Christ as their only hope for salvation, seeking to glorify God with their life is not wrong. It is just incomplete. A Christian belongs to and is identified with God’s church. Later in that same chapter of Total Church, Chester and Timmis point out that other, non-Western cultures don’t define a person by characteristic, they define them by relationship. Family bonds, friendships, communities, and places of origin serve to define a person. This is how Christians should view and communicate their identity in Christ. They have been redeemed by God, adopted by Him as a son or daughter, made joint heirs with Christ, given the privilege of fellowship within His church, and they await Christ’s coming and long for the day when they will join with the rest of the church in worshiping with God and living in perfect communion forever.
The church, then, is vitaly important to the life, health, and growth of any follower of Jesus Christ. To pursue Jesus apart from the church is like training for a race without shoes or learning to play the guitar on an instrument without strings. You may see another person run or someone strum a chord, but without shoes or strings you will never be able to fully capture that experience. I’ll plead with you, the reader, in the next few blogs to join a church, to love it and serve as a part of it, but for now let me just say this. Whether you like it or not, if you follow Jesus you are a part of a church. That is The Church. Embrace that, be grateful for it, let the Lord nuture you through it, and bring God the glory you were meant to bring Him in it.