Who Needs The Church? #2
Updated: Aug 24
As we continue to remain in our homes and practice our 'social distancing' due to the COVID virus, it greatly causes my heart to long for the day when we can gather again physically as the family of God at Grace Evangelical Church. I hope you feel the same way. I’m really missing spending time with my church friends and family. And while worshiping together digitally is better than not worshiping at all, it falls terribly short in many areas. I can’t answer for you, but I miss the handshakes and hugs; I miss the short conversations that make friendships special. Once again, I hope you feel the same way I do. The local church is an incredible gift from God! Very often though, the world and many Christians have never fully understood or have never experienced the amazing gift that the local church can be in their lives. Therefore, as we prepare for the time when we will be able to gather again, I want all of us at Grace to consider how special it is to have a church like ours. I believe the Lord Jesus gave us the church for two main reasons. First, to share the Good News about Jesus dying for the sin of the world and rising again so that “whosoever would believe in Him could be saved” (John 3:16). And second, so the church could not only teach the Word of God to those who have trusted in the Lord as their Savior, but to also provide the support group so that they could live out those truths in their daily lives. So, for today, as we contemplate the question, “Who needs the church?”1, I want to share a few thoughts about how the church should understand herself. Many people see the church no differently than any other group that might offer support and friendships. These other groups could be the Rotary Club, Elks Club, Moose Lodge, a book club, etc. But the local church is Not just Another Support Group. It’s better than any social or support group known to mankind. Scripture for today “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16 For example, let me reflect on how the church is better than Alcoholics Anonymous. Please hear me, A.A. is an incredible organization that has helped millions of people all over the world gain victory over alcohol abuse. A.A. had its beginnings in 1935 in Akron, Ohio with founders Bill Wilson (a New York stockbroker) and Dr. Bob Smith (an Akron surgeon), both who had been hopeless alcoholics. Enlisting the help of an Episcopal clergyman, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, A.A. began as a very faith-based organization. At the start, there were five elements to the original A.A. program. These included: total abstinence from alcohol, acknowledgement of Jesus as their Savior, obedience to God’s will, growth in fellowship with God, and help for other alcoholics.2 Since those early years, A.A. has added its famous 12 Step program and continues to have tremendous success. So, how effective do you think A.A. would be if their members and meetings functioned like some of our churches. What if A.A. members showed up to the meetings all dressed up, but had no real admission of their need? What if there was no accountability and no commitment to follow the A.A. program in between meetings? What if there was no sense of a shared mission between its members? And what if there was no group-to-person confrontation of a problem or support for recovery? What A.A. founders once learned from the church; I believe many churches now need to relearn from A.A. These churches need to remember a group of people can do together what a person can never do by alone. As a local church, it is our mission to help people learn the truth from God’s Word and provide the accountability, support and encouragement for people to gain victory over sin. Consider the following questions. Who should be more ready to admit their need than the children of God? Who needs a support group more than those who realize that their daily dependence on Christ is the most important thing in the world? Who needs a support group more than those who make up the body of Christ? Could it be that many Christians need to be honest with themselves and the Word of God to rediscover a whole new attitude towards their need for a local church? That’s not to say any of us need to be overly critical of the church or even our church. That would miss the entire point of this devotion. However, maybe some people need to become constructively critical of their own understanding of the importance of the church. For those of us who know Christ as Savior, it is always good to remember that the church isn’t about “them”, it’s about Us! As I closed the devotion yesterday, I’d like to share that it’s my prayer that this devotional series will help us at Grace Evangelical Church to remember who our church was designed to help, what our church was designed to be, and in turn place us in a better position to serve others also who need our church. Prayer for today Thank you, Lord, for giving us the church and our church. Help me to consider what an amazing gift the church is to the world and to me. Help me to lean in to providing support to others in my church. Help me to ask for help from my fellow church members when I need it. Help me to serve others as You give me opportunities. Help me begin by reaching out to others who are feeling isolated and alone, and be an encouragement to them. In Jesus’ name, amen I look forward to sharing more devotional thoughts about “Who Needs the Church” on Monday.
Who Needs the Church? Radio Bible Class, 1990