Week 6- Presence

Hebrews 10: 25 “This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing. In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.”

How many times have we heard someone (maybe even ourselves) say, “You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian?” People for centuries have lived out their lives with a heart set against organized religion and done everything they can to stay out of church, while still professing to believe in Jesus.
It may surprise you to know that they are in fact, correct. You can claim faith in Christ and receive salvation without ever stepping foot in a church. However, God does not just want us to live a basic faith. Christ did not die for us to have a basic faith. Most of all, Jesus did not tell his followers at his ascension to model and experience a basic faith.

Jesus desires us to have abundantly more than all we ask or imagine. He wants us to live out our Christian walk in extraordinary ways TOGETHER. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul tell us that there are many parts and that ALL of those parts are necessary for the body to function. The church, as the body of Christ, needs the same.

To receive all that God has for us, we as His followers need to SHOW UP. We need to be present for God to use us daily. Sitting at home reading the Word, praying, and singing songs may grow our own faith, but Christ commands us to share the good news of the Gospel. He commands us to march together in this battle for our friends, family, and those whom we have not even met yet that need Him.

In Hebrews, God’s word instructs us to be involved with a church, a community, or fellowship of believers. But why? Why is this important?
1.  The church was God’s idea. 
It may not look exactly as Christ intended, but the church was God’s plan to accomplish His work on earth today. God uses so many words to describe the church: his bride, the household of God, the body of Christ, What they all have in common is that they tell us that the church is important to God.

2. The church is where God’s people learn about Him.
The bible tells us that the church is meant to teach God’s word to his children. Yes, we have the internet and videos and other sources now but nothing beats sitting amongst other believers listening to a God-called preacher reveal the deeper truths of the Word.

3. The Church is God’s arena for believers to develop their spiritual gifts.
The Church was never meant to be a concert or performance. It was meant to be a place where believers can find their spiritual gifts which they are blessed with and where they can be TRAINED and ENCOURAGED to use them actively. Church is not passive spectating….it is active participation.

4. The Church is where believers find community.
Nowhere in the scriptures does the Bible tell us to love ourselves, pray for ourselves, forgive ourselves, or lead ourselves to faith in Christ. But it tells us dozens of times to do that for others.  James 5:16 tells us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” It is hard to do that all by yourself. Young believers need older, more experienced Christians to mentor and teach them and older Christians need to see the fire and excitement of the “baby Christians” sometimes to keep their own faith fresh.

5.  The Church is God’s outlet for reaching the lost. 
Since the early church in the book of Acts, the purpose of the church was clear – Build the Kingdom. God used the church to care for the widows, orphans, and the lost. They combined their wealth and took care of the less fortunate. They sent out missionaries and did all they could to complete the Great Commission to preach the gospel to every creature. When they worked together in community, the Bible tells us that they saw their numbers increase daily. That could not be accomplished without the fellowship of believers.

6.  To be more like Christ, we must walk in community with others. 
Jesus was the Son of God, righteous, holy, and capable of performing miracles. He also chose a group of people to walk with Him through His ministry. He knew that He would be even more effective by communing with not only His father, but the family He surrounded himself with daily. He broke bread with these people. He laughed and cried with these people. The one person that could have done it alone chose not to.

The idea is as old as the mountains. We are stronger together than apart. God’s word tells us in Ecclesiastes that “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Christ understood this, He surrounded himself with not just followers, but friends. Here is the best part, He chose the weird, downtrodden, broken, screw-ups of the world. I do not know about you, but that lets me know that He could choose me too.

With God’s Spirit dwelling within us, He made sure that we have everything we need to survive this world and be with Him forever. And with the fellowship of believers that surround us, He made sure that we have everything we need to not just live, but live abundantly.