Devotion to the Church

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  September 6, 2014

            Christianity is a community-based religion. Although we must all set aside time for private devotion, prayer, study, and solitude with God, an authentically Biblical faith demands much more.  It demands a fellowship of believers organized in a community of faith.
            I experience this in powerful and wonderful ways.  Before I lead a Bible study in my church, I spend the necessary time of solitary prayer and study to prepare. This is time spent alone with God. I read the scriptures, pray over them, study their possible meanings, consult commentaries to see what learned scholars think, and depend on the Holy Spirit to help me understand what I am to teach.
            The real transformation happens once the class gathers to study together. The power of the Spirit moving through the study is tremendous. Each believer shares how the particular scripture informs their life and impacts their experience of God. Together we find ourselves united in a stronger, deeper understanding of the Bible than any of us would have possibly achieved alone.
            One of the real threats to modern American Christianity is the “do it yourself” attitude that permeates much of secular society. The iconic American ideal of being self-made and independent has spilled over into churches. The result is a dangerously destructive mindset that says, “I don’t need the church because I can have faith all on my own.” Another way it is commonly expressed is, “I’m very spiritual. I’m just not religious.”
            This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, the Bible is filled with vivid accounts of this destructive idea. On one particular occasion, a rebellious leader named Jeroboam ceased power and became king over the northern tribes of Israel. He decided he (and the people under him) did not need God’s house; he could do it his own way. The result was a disaster. Jeroboam built golden calves and cultivated a religious environment that ultimately led to a “worship anywhere or anyway you please” mentality.
            Anyone who claims to be a believer in Jesus Christ really must also live that claim within a community of believers. None of us were made to go it alone in faith and depend on each other as Christians. This is done by joining, supporting, and fully participating in a local gathering of faithful Christians—not just church-goers, but genuine, vital, active and faithful believers.
            The name of your church is only secondary. The particular method of worship practiced in your congregation is not central to faith. Yet, whether or not you are a fully participating and faithful member of that church family makes a tremendous difference.
            Imagine, for example, if attending school from Kindergarten through High School was completely optional and the decision was solely left up to the child. What would happen to attendance? Worse yet, 20 years later, what kind of adults would we have? Or, one may imagine the quality of a sports team where team practice and game attendance were completely optional.
As a society, we place such a high value on a quality education we invest time, money, and require attendance to help insure it happens. Is not being in the Body of Christ as a full participant even more essential?  (It’s certainly more eternal!)
Paul was right when he told the Corinthian church, and through the authority of scripture also tells us that we are all members of the Body of Christ.  We truly do need one another.  It is through the church where God intends us to experience being the body.