Session 16: Biblical Community -- Do I "have to" go to church?
Community is not a “nice-to-have” addition, but an essential experience for living a godly and healthy life. God intended for humans to have rich, life-giving relationships with each other; relationships energized and motivated by the actual presence of God among them. Adam and Eve experienced this perfect ideal in the garden. But their rejection of God’s vision for life together caused humankind to be escorted from the garden and out of community with God. This separation from God and the presence of sin in every human being’s nature is a perpetual challenge to creating strong community. But it is clear from God’s Word that people were not meant for separation and isolation. (See Ecclesiastes 4:8–12.)
One of the marked differences between the church and the rest of society is the call to live for others. Throughout the New Testament, followers of Jesus were urged to look out for “one another.” When the early Christians did this in faith, it created an irresistible attraction for outsiders to belong to the family of God.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44–47)
I fellowship with Christians to accomplish God’s purposes in my life, in the lives of others and in the world.
If you were going to rescue a person who had fallen off a steep cliff, you would want to be tied to as many people up on the mountain as possible, supporting you and holding you as you attempt rescue. As we minister and reach out to those outside the community of faith, it is necessary to stay tethered together for optimum success, lest we also fall.
There are days we desperately need a good hug to keep going, and other days we need a swift kick in the pants to get back to where we should be. Friends who love God, and love us for who we are, know exactly when and how to do the right thing for us. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon writes, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6 NKJV).