About ten years ago, when I was still at my former place of employment, our managers called us together one afternoon to let us know that one of our co-workers had been let go. He was an aircraft engine mechanic with an Airframe and Powerplant license and that means he had spent about two years of his life in trade school to get that license. In the world of aviation maintenance, we’re subject to random drug tests and we learned later that same afternoon that he tested positive for marijuana. Everything he had worked for was gone, in an instant.
Though we weren’t in the same department, I knew the man quite well. He professed to be a fellow Christian. He was in fact, very well versed in scripture. His memory of the Bible was so good I used to joke that he could quote scripture forward and backwards. We had many spiritual conversations during the time we worked together. It came as quite a surprise when I learned why he had been let go. But it’s important to understand that only God knows the heart, so only God knows if he was truly saved. The fact that he got fired from his job for testing positive for an illegal substance does not mean he wasn’t. As Christians, we are constantly bombarded with temptation, and sometimes we stumble. We’re not immune to temptation. We’re not perfect.
Like I said, we had numerous conversations over the Bible but when I first asked where he went to church, he slammed on the brakes. “I don’t believe in organized worship.” he said. He went on to say that all he ever did was read the Bible at home. He did not see the need to worship with other believers. He flat out rejected the idea and refused my invitations to visit my church.
The sad part is, he was the sole means of support for his wife and their six children. A positive drug test is an automatic one year suspension of your license. Additionally, you’re required to undergo mandatory drug counseling, at your own expense, to get reinstated. His moment of weakness was costly not just for him, but for his entire family. I can’t say with 100% certainty that, had he been part of a church family and attended church regularly, things would have turned out different for him. But I have to believe the odds would have been greatly improved in his favor.
He argued that the only thing he needed to do was read the Bible. I’m not denying the power of God’s word and yes, we need to set aside time to read the Bible in the privacy of our homes, free from distractions. That’s a necessary part of our walk with God. But it’s equally important to be part of a body of believers who come together on a regular basis to worship God. I have to believe that if he had been an active member of a Bible believing church where Christ is taught and honored, he would have had a congregation of Godly people walking with him and praying for him and calling on God’s power to help him spiritually when he needed it most.
I want to interject something here. These messages not only go out to fellow believers, they’re also posted on a blog at WordPress.com and are read by people who may not necessarily be followers of Jesus Christ. They might be checking out Christianity or are just curious about our faith. If you’re one of those reading this on WordPress, I realize you may have had a church experience at some time in your past that left you disillusioned. I get it. Maybe you’re turned off by televangelists who seem more focused on money than God. Here’s a revelation for you: There are wolves among the sheep! The Bible warns of churches that will stray from the truth of God’s word in the last days, and we are seeing that being fulfilled today. Some of your reasons for avoiding the church might be valid, especially if your first experience was with one of the wolves. But most of your reasons are not. Regardless of your past experiences or your perceptions of the church, there is a truth that is undeniable; you need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And just so we’re clear, salvation comes through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. I’m not saying otherwise. Just showing up at church won’t save you. But in order to grow in your relationship with Christ, you need to be part of a Bible believing church that puts Jesus front and center!
All throughout history, God instructed His people to gather together for worship. They started in a tent in the desert and eventually built the temple in Jerusalem. In the first century, Christians gathered in each others’ homes. In 1st Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul used the parts of the human body as an illustration to show how important believers are to one another and to show the importance of cultivating healthy relationships within Christ’s church. He concluded that illustration in verse 27 where he wrote, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” God intended for His people to worship together.
Someone not in the faith might ask, “If Jesus is all we need, then why do we need other believers?” In that same chapter of 1st Corinthians, Paul explains how all believers have something to offer our particular congregations. We all bring something to the table, so to speak. Paul called them “gifts of the Spirit.” And he went on to say that these gifts are given for the common good. In other words, God uses our gifts to help others. In the case of my former co-worker, there might have been someone God could have brought alongside him to help him at just the right time. It may have been a minister or a pastor or a fellow believer could have counseled him or given him the advice he needed to hear. He might have had the opportunity to be part of a Bible class or life group that could have prayed with him and for him. But he never gave them that chance. As it turned out, Satan was able to isolate him and find a weakness. I believe it’s for this reason that Jesus never sent his disciples out alone. At the very least, He sent them out in pairs. There is strength in numbers and we need the strength and encouragement that comes from worshiping with our brothers and sisters in Christ. There are times we may need to draw on the strength of a fellow believer, whether through prayer, a timely word, or wise counsel. There are times when we may need to offer that to someone else. None of that happens when we choose not be part of a fellowship of believers.
I gave several reasons why it is necessary for us as believers to worship together. But there is one very important reason I have not mentioned till now. We come together to glorify and honor God. It should be something we do with gladness of heart as it was in the first century church. In Acts 2 verse 46 we’re told “Every day they continued meeting together in the temple courts.They broke bread in each other’s homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, PRAISING GOD, and enjoying the favor of all people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” We strengthen and encourage one another and ultimately we all draw strength from God. But the main reason we gather together is to give praise, honor, and glory….to God.
Jesus taught on the sides of hills, by the seashore, and in open fields. He taught in people’s homes and in synagogues. Can you imagine anyone who might have said, “I don’t really need to hear Him in person. I can learn all I need about God by staying home and studying my scrolls.” Sure, they could have learned all about God’s law and their history, but they would have missed the chance to see, in person, the love of God being put on display through the life of Jesus. It’s one thing to read about God’s love, it’s yet another to experience it and share it firsthand and that’s hard to do alone in your living room.
Finally, I’m not saying that church membership or belonging to a body of believers guarantees us a trouble free existence. Jesus pretty much guaranteed that we will face trouble. He said, “In this world you have trouble.” (John 16:33). For me, when trouble comes, I want all the help I can get. So I go to God. And in turn, I go my brothers and sisters in Christ. I go to my church family. I cannot imagine trying to walk this walk alone.