Just shy of a year ago, our family moved back to Missoula after a three and a half year stay in Bozeman. After moving back we have often been asked, “Why did you come back?” Our answer is simple, we moved back here for the church. There were a lot of great things in Bozeman: my husband had a good job and we had just bought our dream house. But we wrestled with finding a church and a community to call home. And for us, even though everything else was great, this was enough to stir us to move. Church is worth it.
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Christ loves His church. He died for her. The church is important to every believer because it is important to Christ. When God saves us it means that we belong to Christ. We are His bride, the church. As the church, Jesus has “cleansed us by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that we might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27). In light of this, we desire to be intricately involved with the church. When we desire to be in fellowship or community we look to God’s church.
In the membership handbook at Sovereign Hope Church it is states, “The church is a place where we can experience the kingdom of God. The church is God’s people, who seek to submit to the ideals of God’s ultimate kingdom living.” Experiencing a part of God’s Kingdom with other believers, striving after Christ side by side, should be one of our top priorities. The church is a place of grace and truth. It is where our faith in Christ will flourish as we submit to the Bible and love, disciple, and live our everyday lives with one another.
As Christians, God has graciously given us the gift of one another. He has blessed us with brothers and sisters in Christ so that we are not just surviving in this world, but thriving in Christ together. The writer of Hebrews speaks to this. Right after he talks of our redemption in Christ, he speaks of stirring up one another in love.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 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” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
This scripture paints a beautiful picture of how we hold fast to our faith in Christ and from that we are able to love one another. God commands us to meet together for our good. We are to spend time considering how to better encourage each other to love more like Christ, and serve one another as Christ has served us. This is how community looks within the church.
Neglecting to Meet
Whatever you do, be sure not to neglect meeting with one another. Being submerged in your local church is a way that God helps you from wandering away from Him. Our church body, elders, and pastors are there to pull us out of the rough and help restore us to Christ when we fall into sin. There is accountability in meeting with members of the body on a regular basis. Being reminded of His truths every day by those around you is a great source of encouragement. We all have tough seasons that God graces us with and those in the church remind us of His loving kindness, provision, strength and grace in those times. It is far too lonely and costly a thing to neglect being a part of the church.
Giving the Gospel
Finally, in the church we can give each other the gospel. It is the very foundation we stand one. Without Christ we are nothing and have nothing to give. This is well stated in Milton Vincent’s A Gospel Primer:
“Indeed, I love my fellow-Christians not simply because of the gospel, but I love them best when I am loving them with the gospel! And I do this not merely by speaking gospel words to them, but also by living before them and generously relating to them in a gospel manner. Imparting my life to them in this way, I thereby contribute to their experience of the power, the Spirit, and the full assurance of the gospel.”
Every day, every one of us needs to be reminded of God’s grace through Christ. In a biblical community we are able to see this lived out in the lives of those around us. Meals are shared in abundance. Care is given to those in need. And Jesus is to be glorified in all that we do to generously lavish one another with the gospel. Let us love with the gospel.
Every Day Life
Going from living with little fellowship and no local congregation, to being completely submerged in a Christ centered community has been life changing. Our family loves Jesus and has for a number of years, but being a part of God’s church locally has helped us to flourish in Christ.
I encourage you to get involved in a local Jesus loving, Bible believing, gospel-centered church. Actively serve those in your community group and congregation. Stir up your brothers and sisters in Christ to love and good works. Walk out tough seasons with those that will speak gospel truths into painful wounds. Be a partaker of grace with those around you. Forgive one another as Christ forgives you. Worship God together. Pray together. Read scriptures together. And remember Paul’s words to his beloved church in Philippi, “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).