Because Together is Better Than Alone
When Jesus was preparing to make his final journey toward Jerusalem to ultimately go to the cross, he took time to instruct his disciples as to what they should expect once he was resurrected and ascended into heaven. Of course, the short-sighted disciples didn’t understand what he really meant at that moment, but there would come a time when they would (Acts 2). In the Gospel of John, chapter 14, Jesus tells his disciples that while he would be leaving them (physically), they would not be left alone. John 14:16 reads “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” So Jesus took the time to instruct his disciples on the presence of the Holy Spirit (“Helper”), who would be with them forever. The task set before these men in Matthew 28:18-20 would be daunting: take the gospel to every people group on the earth. What a task! But they would not be doing that work by themselves, because the Holy Spirit would be with them, always, even to the end of time.
The mark of the church is the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is leading, guiding, convicting, and sanctifying God’s people for God’s glory. But how does the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers (the church) work itself out in a practical way? Well, there are many different ways this can be addressed. But in light of the topic (Why Church Matters) I would like to propose to you one particular way the church exemplifies the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and why that really does matter in a very big way. After the ascension of Jesus Christ, the immediate response of the first Christians was to gather together (Acts 1:12-14). The met together, prayed together, worshiped together, and were instructed together, in the name of Jesus, for the good of their own souls. See, the disciples knew that while they would be guarded and guided by the Holy Spirit they would still need their fellow workers to walk with them on this journey. I have often wondered how Peter and John were able to stand with such boldness before their fellow Jews and proclaim the gospel to people who would have preferred to see them dead. Yet, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and with their arms locked in unity with brothers and sisters in Christ, they stood and preached the truths of the gospel. Peter and John knew that they were not alone, nor would they ever be alone in this new global mission. The Spirit dwelt within them and fellow believers were praying for them.
These first “Christians” of 1st century Palestine formed the very first Christian church, and the core of their fellowship was anchored in the reality that they were better off “together” than they would ever be apart. Even way back then, they knew Christianity is not for “Lone Rangers”, nor is it a journey that can be made alone without any help from others. If you think along those lines, unless you’re thinking changes you will find yourself woefully ineffective in your walk with Christ. The church was brought together in the name of Jesus to “be there” for one another. It is for our own good and for our sanctification. God knows you need others and he knows you will always be better off with others than by yourself. In several different places in his letters, the Apostle Paul describes just how much the church matters: we are one body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27), we are gifted for the good of others (Romans 12:3-8), we are fellow citizens in God’s kingdom (Ephesians 2:18-21) we are unified under God, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-6), and we desperately need each other’s prayers (2 Corinthians 1:11). There is no evidence whatsoever in scripture that supports the idea that a man or woman is better off without the church. Our effectiveness as Christians depends upon our connection to the body of Christ. It is for our good and it will lead to God’s glory in our lives. The church is the primary means by which we receive biblical instruction, intercessory prayer, spiritual uplifting, places of service, and loving correction along the way. It is good and pleasing for God’s people to be together for his glory (Psalm 133).
So don’t allow yourself to fall into that trap of self-sufficiency and self-reliance. We are here for one another, to encourage, pray for, and support each other as we journey together in this life for the glory of God. You cannot and will not be a Christian apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And you will only be effective as a Christian if you are connected to a growing body of believers. That is why the church matters, and we hope you take the time to see it for yourself.
Please visit us at www.fbcbr.com to see how we operate as a unified body of beleivers for the glory of God and for the good of our city.