"Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment." (Prov 18:1)
One of the biggest lies Satan whispers in our ears today is that regular commitment to church community is an optional accessory for everyday Christians. Although most professing believers would agree that regular attendance to church is a good thing, other activities like work, sleep and recreation often win the day come Sunday mornings.
Do you really know what you’re missing?
A popular t-shirt in one of our local outdoor stores says, " I'd rather be fishing thinking about God than being in church thinking about fishing." Sadly, this slogan is truer in some of our hearts than many would want to confess. Some people only show up to church when it’s convenient or if it doesn't interrupt "better" plans. Some attend so haphazardly and sporadically that their depth of connectedness remains superficial at best. Some come to “check the box” but have no real room for authentic fellowship or service outside of Sunday morning. Some simply believe they don't need the church and attempt the "me and Jesus" approach while experiencing little to no true spiritual growth or community.
Do you love being with God’s people?
The problem is that the New Testament knows of no Christian who ever isolated himself from the flock. As the church sprang forth in the Book of Acts, newly born Christians were seen joyfully clinging to one another rather than running away from each other. "And all who believed were together....and day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes..." (Acts 2:44,46). The New Testament church couldn’t get enough of each other (almost like they really loved being together!) Do you love being with God’s people? One of the marks of a true Christian is that they love one another and love doing life together (John 13:35).
Are your closest friends in the church?
More than merely loving community for the sake of community, the New Testament teaches that the end game of true fellowship is authentic spiritual growth. Paul taught the church in Ephesus that lasting transformation in an individual’s life requires pursuing the Christian life together in sanctifying community. "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart." (2 Tim 2:22). Are the people you’re closest to in this life your family and friends, or are you closest to those who are faithfully committed to God’s church?
Are you making disciples on your own?
The Bible continually teaches how essential the church is in pointing God’s people to their urgent purpose of making disciples together. The Great Commission is not fulfilled by isolated individuals on isolated missions, but rather a committed group of believers working together in unity making disciples for God’s glory. This is the church. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Heb 10:24-25). Rather than merely being consumers of the faith, we desperately need to be servants of the faith, spurring one another on as we engage our calling together. How are you doing at making disciples on your own?
Are you missing out on the fullness of the gospel?
Friends, if we take the title of Christian but keep ourselves from the body of Christ, we reveal that we don’t truly understand the fullness of the gospel. Christ didn't just save us from our sin to escape hell, he saved us to his church for his glory. We were never designed to merely exist alone, we were made new in Christ to joyfully thrive as a vital part of God’s church. When we attempt to live the Christian life apart from the church, we stunt our spiritual growth, miss out on authentic fellowship and short-circuit our greatest calling to make disciples.
As the fall season rushes upon us and our lives return to routine, let us not return to spiritual isolation or half-hearted commitment. Let us engage and commit wholeheartedly to the bride of Christ and the privileged work he has for us. Let’s show up strong, show up early, show up beyond Sunday, and show up prepared to repent of our natural inclination of isolation. If you don't have a church find one that faithfully preaches God's Word, stick to it and give yourself away for God’s glory. Commitment to Christ's church is a joyful necessity, not an optional accessory.