Straggler Christianity: 3 Reasons we Need the Church
It’s never been easier to live life in isolation than it is today. We can pick up groceries without getting out of the car, we can see loved one’s faces through a screen, and we can even “attend” church without getting out of bed. However, this is not God’s design for His people.
1 Peter 5 says our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I’m not sure if you ever watched Animal Planet, but the predator usually preys on the straggler of the group. It’s obvious that, as sheep, we are better together. Here are 3 reasons why we should be engaged with a local church if we consider ourselves believers:
1. We need to feed and be fed the Word of God. In John 21 Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Peter responds by saying, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus responds with a command for them as they begin the church, “Feed my sheep." If we claim to be obedient disciples of Christ we cannot divorce ourselves from this mandate.
If we are living “lone wolf” Christianity it is impossible for us to be fulfilling our duty of feeding others if we live in isolation. Not only would we be disobedient, we would be missing out on the blessings of caring for Christ’s body. We must also be fed the Word of God in community. We all have spiritual blindspots. We are told in 2 Timothy 3 that the Word of God is how we are taught, reproved, and corrected. Teaching, reproof, and correction are not easily done alone. Are we really so confident in ourselves to believe we can teach ourselves the Word of God, reprove our own behavior, and correct our own shortcomings? It’s spiritually dangerous to walk with Christ by yourself.
2. We were designed for community.
God said in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image”; emphasis on “our”. This means that just as our triune God lives in community with Himself, so should we walk in community being made in His image. Without being in community we remove ourselves from several things the Church (our community) provides for us. Here are 3 indispensable things we receive and provide for others when we walk in community:
a. Encouragement. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” It is through being around one another and spurring one another on that we stay encouraged to grow and glorify God.
b. Accountability. Let’s be real, accountability is not always fun. However, it is necessary because we are told in Romans 14 that we will give an account for ourselves. We are all sinful and need others to help us fight our flesh, so we can present ourselves without blemish in the end.
c. Care. God wants to bless you with loving and caring relationships within biblical community. We will face death, disease, and suffering in this life. It’s true that God is always with us, but He’s also given us each other. Don’t do life alone. Proverbs, 17:17 reads, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” The church is intended to be a place of supernatural care which yields life for all.
3. We can’t complete the Mission of God alone.
God wants to advance His kingdom through the local church and the gifts God has given His people. Matthew 16:18 says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” It is clear that the method God's to advance His kingdom is the Church. Apart from the church, we may do good things, but we separate ourselves from the very thing that God has promised to use.
Secondly, God has given every believer gifts to build His church. Your gifts were not given to you to advance your kingdom; they were given to advance God’s.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the church as a body and says that the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need for you”. Paul explains that we need all parts of the body to function properly in order to be healthy. When we are disconnected, we are weaker and less effective.
To be the most effective in our personal growth, helping others grow, and seeing the end to God’s story with every tongue worshipping His name, we absolutely need to be a part of a Church.