The Bible is clear that we should all go to church regularly. It doesn’t have to be a traditional place with a steeple and pews. That is just one type of church building, not the church itself. The church is simply those who gather together in the name of Jesus. The church is us meeting together to worship Jesus, fellowship and do life as a group. It can be in a cafe or a cave. It can be with organ music or electric guitars. There are many styles and preferences expressed but the joy is in the meeting. We all need to regularly get with other believers to worship Jesus as a group. The Bible is filled with explanations of the benefits that can only come from spending our lives with other Christians. It is really hard to be discipled by ourselves as it inherently involves at least two people.
Church, when done well, is a wonderful blessing to every person involved. Most people understand this as Christians. Even those who have been badly burned by the church seem to concede that they would love the good version of church. They are angry with the church in their past but know that they would love a good church. The fact that it is personally good for us to go to church seems clear. Yet there is another side of this same Christian to church relationship. Not only do we need and benefit from gathering as the church, but the church needs and benefits from each one of us. Again, not the building or organization but the gathering of individual believers. Christian you are needed by the rest of the church. Do we find that hard to believe? It is true. The Body of Christ requires every last one of us to be involved in it to be all that God intends it to be. In order for the church to be the masterpiece that He intends to display to the world, it needs all of us.
Whether weak or strong, eloquent or tripping over words, young or old, it is the very differences in us being used and joined together by the Lord that builds the glorious Temple of God. One living stone by itself is wonderful. A whole structure of them fashioned and fit by God Himself can be the work of the Creator alone.
For a work of art to tell a story, it has to have texture and diversity. A symphony needs many different instruments with a variety of sounds. A poem needs a mixture of letters and sounds. A statute needs shapes and shading in order to convey what it is. One element by itself does not tell a story. It is the same with our lives in Jesus. We can be solitary but it doesn’t tell the same story. We need other believers in our lives not only to keep us healthy but to see the full story of God’s masterwork.
Our lives alone after being saved by Jesus are singular miracles. When they are intertwined with the billions of Christians around the world in God’s communion, they are so much more.
What if one color in a beautiful painting decided that they did not need the others? We would start with an amazing masterpiece like Monet’s Water Lilies with all of the colors of the palette worked together wonderfully through the skill of the artist.
What happens if one color sets out to be a solo act? If red decided it did not need the rest of the shades, what do we get? Just a flat single color with no contrast, no shadows or texture, just simple old red. Nice but not nearly as special as Monet, right? No one looks at a single color living room wall and admires it as a work of art.
We also would have very little evidence of the skill of the artist. It is through seeing the colors worked together brilliantly that we really appreciate the creator. The colors need each other to work as God intended and to show the greatness of the artist.
It is the same with the Body of Christ. We may think that we are better off on our own, but the truth is we need each other greatly. It is only through our lives being weaved together with other believers that God creates His masterpiece. God uses other Christians around us to bring out the best parts of us. He uses our weakness to bring out the best parts of those around us as well. He uses all of us together to testify to His skill as an artist. Only an awesome, all-powerful God could take simple jars of clay like each of us and make a beautiful masterpiece.
Paul addresses this in his first letter to the Corinthians. They were a church that was putting too much emphasis on the “impressive” spiritual gifts. Those who were not speaking in tongues were scorned and viewed as useless. They were just not needed when there were so much more talented people around. Paul’s responds by explaining that we are all in an interdependent relationship with one another. It may not seem like it to our eyes, but it is true.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12
We hear the term the Body of Christ so much, it may have lost its impact. Yet, this is the clear point that Paul is making to a group of people who are not appreciating each other or themselves. We are connected to one another. We share the same systems. We share the same heart. We need each other to perform as well as possible. Yes, a body can lose a hand or a foot and survive, but it will be limited for the rest of its life. The absent part will need to be compensated for and will be missed as long as it is not there. It is always better when the full Body is together as one.
I used to think that I had nothing to bring to the church. I was in great pain, struggling with my addiction to alcohol and was generally skeptical of how the church we were attending at the time was doing their ministry. As a result, I withdrew from real contact with others. I still went to weekly service but I spent my time pretending to be fine and not voicing any of my concerns. “They would never listen to someone like me.” “They don’t need a messed up person like me.” “I can’t contribute in any way” These are all the lies that Satan got in my head during that time. The truth is that by pretending to be ok, I deprived another believer of the blessing of encouraging me or praying for me. By not speaking up, I took away the opportunity for the leadership to either repent or respond to me in love. Though I was there in body, I never played the part in that particular Body of Christ that God intended for it. The Body suffered as a result.
We are all needed in the church. You, reader, are needed in the church to show God’s glory as intended. You are valuable to the church to make it the work of art it is intended to be. You are meant to be a glorious living stone building God’s Temple in this world.
What is stopping you from taking your position?
Whether you are the fancy member the world thinks is impressive or the one that works in the background, you are indispensable. Whether you have it all together or are struggling to not to break down in tears every single day, you are needed. If you are the one needing or giving forgiveness, you are needed. For the Body to work as well as it should and for it to testify to God’s great ongoing work, you are required to do your part.
It may be to preach, to sing, to laugh, to cry or to have someone just love you, each activity testifies to God’s amazing love and redemptive work on this earth.
I hear so often the idea that a person doesn’t need the church, they are doing fine on their own. This may seem true to the person but it is really only half of the equation. It misses Paul’s point about the Body of Christ. A person may feel they don’t need the church but God’s church needs all of us to tell God’s story to the fullest. Even the lack of the weakest brother or sister is like a work of a fine painter that is missing a crucial splash of color. It is wonderful and beautiful. It is an amazing accomplishment…but it is just missing something.