Recently, I was scrolling through my social media and I saw another post where a famous person in the Christian Community was telling why they no longer need the church. It was the same reasons that all of us have seen before: people are hypocrites, I was hurt by the church, pastors are not perfect. If you have been a Christian for more than a minute you know, have heard, or have personally felt every one of these excuses. How many of us have been hurt by one…two…or all these things? Ooo, Ooo, Pick Me! Over a lifetime of being in the church I have been on the receiving side of all these, multiple times, but I refuse to leave the church. Why?
First, the church is a place to fellowship with other members of the body of Christ. Hebrews 10:23-25 states, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” We have an obligation to be with each other and encourage one another to keep faithfully walking with the Lord. While the church is more than just four walls it is a place that we can come together and meet each other. I think the greatest thing that this past year has taught all of us is that we need human interaction.
Many, including myself, thought that the internet and social media were going to replace the need for face-to-face interactions but this last year has proved that false. Much of our communication is nonverbal whether it be body language, eye contact, etc. Furthermore, studies have shown that less than 20% of people say that their social media presents a truthful and accurate reflection of who they are. Is it any surprise that the lack of interaction in the real world is causing the rise of miscommunications and, at times, lies? 1 Corinthians 12:27 states, “[Y]ou are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” This last year has been like putting a tourniquet on the body of Christ, it has caused the entire body a lot of pain and will kill parts of the body if we don’t come back together, take the tourniquet off and let the body heal.
Second, we are many parts of the ONE body of Christ. As Christians, we are all a part of the same body and “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 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 one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but many” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14. “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its part should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” 1 Corinthians 12:24-27.
Will we have disagreements, of course, but those disagreements are part of relationships. Jesus spoke directly about disagreements knowing we would hurt each other and that we would fall short of being good siblings. He then gave us a template in Matthew 18:15-19 to either come back into agreement with each other or, if there is no resolution, part ways with each other. In the end, we are to “[b]e kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Third, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” Abraham Lincoln. These words paraphrased the words of Jesus when he said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” Matthew 12:25. And then in Ephesians we are told to, “Make every effort to keep unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (vs. 4:3-6). There are many in this world that are trying to drive wedges of division and strife between everyone but as followers of Christ we are called to be of one Spirit.
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people” (Romans 16:17-18).
Unfortunately, there will be many, even within the church, that will sow division for likes, follows, and their moment in the spotlight. As Paul told Timothy, “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (1 Timothy 6:2-5). Instead, “guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).