“And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25 CSB
As we are hurled further into the age of self, and as we witness the colossal cultural shift where much of the world is all the more non-bashfully departing moral norms and practices that many of us born in the 20th century are accustomed to- we as Christians are already finding that to live for Christ is becoming increasingly less comfortable, and we are starting to truly feel the cost of forsaking the world and clinging to Him. In this same age, we are seeing many prominent leaders in the Christian community, and many others, going through a crisis of their faith, then deconstructing, only to depart true Biblical teaching.
This is one of the great tragedies of our age. So many through the years, have made the horrible and oftentimes spiritually fatal mistake of neglecting gathering with fellow believers to fellowship together, encourage each other, and generally do life together. Many of us have forgotten that if God is a perfect community within Himself (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), then we, as His creation, are created for community also. To live without this, is to live outside of God’s perfect design. To live without the gift of community, we are rejecting life and choosing death.
Brothers and sisters, I urge you to take this matter seriously. This viral departure from the Church begs the question: Why are many fleeing the Church?
For many, it could be that you were hurt by the Church in some way. Maybe you had a youth pastor that abused his position, maybe one of your ministers or fellow brothers or sisters fell short of your expectations when you were walking through a trial. Maybe you witnessed a local church mistreat a dear friend of yours and so this, or other examples, angered you to the point of not going as often as you should if not going altogether anymore. Maybe you’ve become bored of the Gospel and feel that you no longer have need of it, because you no longer believe in the power of the Gospel Message or perhaps more poignantly- due to the attractiveness of relativism and plurality- you no longer believe in the power of God.
Friend, I implore you to not go into the darkness and death that surely wait for you outside of the light that is found in God and gathering with His people. We humans are not lone rangers. It is not in our DNA. To try and live as such is a mimicry of living at best. Do you remember when you first came to faith? Do you remember the rush and thrill of the deep and otherworldly beauty of Christ and the life He offers you? Do you remember what it was like to journey to your congregation’s meeting place in the dead of winter’s bitter cold and within the church doors you were instantly greeted and warmed by the love of your fellow adopted brothers and sisters in Christ, and their loving and gleeful company? Do you remember that moment, when you who were once a wanderer realized you no longer had to wander anymore, because there is a place for you at the Father’s table, and in His house?
My friend, if we allow ourselves an honest look at things, you and I will find that this world is deeply and unfathomably sick. This world, because it is destined for destruction, has no place for those of us who desire life, joy, and peace.
We still need the Church, because the Church is where we hear the word of God preached, the laying of hands and the sacraments are administered. It is where lunches, dinners and coffee meets are scheduled which are avenues of deeper connection with other broken vessels like ourselves, which helps us know we never are, nor ever were, alone. The Church is where the single mother finds support. Where the widow is comforted. Where the sick can be healed. The hungry fed. The homeless given a warm and dry bed. The suicidal turned into being steadfast. Where we are sent out to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel so those who are dead in their sins may be made truly alive in Christ who offers us life and it more abundantly.
The Church, the bride of Christ whom He died for, is still very much needed today. If Christ found her worth dying for, then may we not dishonor Him by forsaking her!
After all, our faith is in Him, not broken and corrupt sinners like you and me.