More on Church

Someone asked me the other day if I can pick the direction the comments in a post are going to go in. I said I thought so. I’ve decided I was wrong. Sometimes I write things, particularly about Christianity, that seem pretty cut and dry, and objectively clear in the Bible, and I get interesting comments that criticise me for making a claim the commenter disagrees with…

That’s fine. I like being disagreed with, I don’t have a monopoly on truth. But the Bible does. Or it claims to, you can take or leave that. If you take it, there’s no room for being wishy washy. The Bible says we’re saved to be part of the family/kingdom of God. You can’t do that alone. It’s not a family of one.

I might be getting the Bible wrong, but if I’m standing on the verses of the Bible that talk about what I’m talking about, and you’re disagreeing with what I’m saying, without looking at what the Bible says, then be prepared for me not to take the disagreement particularly seriously.

Let me be clear what I’m not saying – going to church does not make you a Christian, but if you’re a Christian you’ll go to church. In fact, if you’re a Christian, you’re already part of the “universal church”, the family of God – and you should love your Christian brothers and sisters and want to be with them in church… if you don’t, then questions need to be asked.

There’s a murky area where there are some situations where church is not possible – people in hospital, in permanent care, and who, like the thief on the cross die before having a chance to go to church… but really… there aren’t a whole lot of excuses to not be treating Christianity like a family thing… which means being part of a family. Not going it alone.

Christianity.net.au says something about this probably a little clearer…

“The Christian life was never meant to be lived solo, God has gifted each member of his church to serve one another, you can’t do that solo. It is near impossible to live a Christian life alone, it runs counter to everything God has done for us. However, some people can’t help but live alone. The thief on the cross could not join a church, he had no choice; but where we have a choice, we really should become a part of God’s church.

It’s like someone who gets married, but never moves in with their husband. It is true that you can be married without living together, and there may be extreme circumstances that you can think of where someone may get married and not live together (if someone is on their death bed for example). But a real marriage involves relationship. Becoming a Christian means being a part of God’s family. “

There’s an interesting and timely post on the matter at the internetmonk’s site about the old “Jesus – Yes, Church – No” mentality

I’d love to see what arguments people could put forward that actually work against the idea I’m putting forward that aren’t pie in the sky hypotheticals. I’m not suggesting that church saves you, but if you’re a Christian there’s just no way I can see how you could reject gathering with God’s people.

11 thoughts on “More on Church”

  1. When I went to church people didn’t say hello to me. I felt unloved. I got burnt at church. Christians are hypocrites.

    I’ve head these arguments and similar used plenty of times – what do you say to them?

  2. Good questions Joel, what’s your answer?

    Mine would be that if you think church is about you you’ve got it all wrong…

  3. It’s hard, because sometimes they are real issues. I’d probably start off by saying that the church is made by God, not man – it’s God’s idea and it brings glory to God. To reject Christ’s bride and the object of his affection is to reject a huge part of the salvation that he has won for you. The church is full of flawed and sinful people, so it isn’t perfect, but neither are you, and God rejected us on that basis (and he actually has a right to! We don’t,) we’d all be in a bit of strife. So let’s try and get on with loving one another.

    Which would probably go down like a lead balloon.

  4. if you think church is about you you’ve got it all wrong…

    In any family it’s a valid expectation to be valued and cared for (and reciprocate). Of course, there’s often a disconnect in how people expect this will be shown and how it is, and even how it should be.

  5. Mark,

    I think it’s like the paradox of rights and responsibilities.

    I’d prefer to emphasise the fact that as a member of the body you have responsibilities to act in a certain way, you have no control over how others will act, you don’t even know if other people are part of the family, because only God knows that.

    Our responsibility as Christians is to serve the church. That other people don’t do that well is largely immaterial (though a problem for particular churches to tackle via leadership – like in any family).

  6. Our responsibility as Christians is to serve the church.

    Agree completely.

    That other people don’t do that well is largely immaterial

    Also agree, but lets also take the various logs out of our own eyes and acknowledge that those already included in the family need to be inclusive to those who feel excluded. Sometimes we may need to go beyond what we feel is reasonable to meet the outsider and invite them in.

    For the one burned/hurt/excluded, or just new, there’s as much responsibility to become part of the family. One of the first “steps” as such is making yourself available to participate in formal and informal “church” – meeting together. You’ve mentioned before that it takes time to break into any social group.

  7. “Also agree, but lets also take the various logs out of our own eyes and acknowledge that those already included in the family need to be inclusive to those who feel excluded. Sometimes we may need to go beyond what we feel is reasonable to meet the outsider and invite them in.”

    Absolutely. That’s the responsibility of everybody in the body. I’m not suggesting the person feeling hurt is wrong to feel that way – but their focus should be on doing their bit, as should everybody else’s – not so much on what should be being done to or for them…

  8. but their focus should be on doing their bit, as should everybody else’s – not so much on what should be being done to or for them…

    As long as everyone is still permitted ( in the sense of it being socially accepted and comfortable) to express their reasonable needs.

    Aussie culture, and particularly Christian culture, can extend the often necessary “suck it up, Princess. Take a teaspoon of cement” attitude to a point where you can’t express where your needs aren’t being met, or you need help, even where it’s appropriate and helpful to the body – we’re meant to share each others burdens.

    When this isn’t the case, it’s ok to cry “foul”, but it doesn’t remove the individual responsibility to serve the body.

  9. Hey gents,

    Very helpful thoughts here, my thanks.

    I think that the only thing left unsaid here is to ask about the issue behind the issue. So far in my experience, there are three reasons people take such stances:

    (1)Couldn’t be bothered. In serious trouble of not being converted.

    (2)Seriously burned at a particular church. At this point, it is the responsibility of that person to work through what’s happened to them, and to reach out in contact with other Christians as they recover and find themself able. However, (this is at Nathan, somewhat) it is our responsibility (those who are talking to these people) to acknowledge that someone feels hurt (not necessarily that they were sinned against, we can’t know that) and to extend to them grace and love that will heal wounds, and lovingly work to bring them into relationship with the rest of the body.

    (3)People who have had tough issues in the past, and as a result find difficulty in dealing with any group of people. The response in this situation is the same as (2), but in this case they’re going to need some genuine help with their long-standing problems, or else they’ll simply get hurt again. (whether by the church’s faults or their own) In this case simply pushing them into church isn’t showing genuine love for them for who they are, and helping them deal with who they are.

    And of course in all of this its really important not to inadvertantly seem smug about not being the one who has issues with church.

    Yeah? Nah?

  10. So, in summary, while that person has responsibilities to the body, the body has responsibilities to them. Each ought to focus on their own, and not necessarily tell the other to do the same.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top