In many places in Scripture, the church is referred to as the body of Christ, with Jesus as our head. For example, in Romans we read:
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to the others.” Romans 12:4-5
And in Colossians we are told:
“And He (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church ….” Colossians 1:18a
Unfortunately, these days, we have lost much of that unity. I’ve been thinking about how church has changed over the years. Rural, smaller churches are struggling to survive. Mission churches are difficult to plant. Some of this is due to practical, monetary considerations — it’s expensive to pay a Pastor and maintain a building. At the same time, transportation is cheaper and easier than it used to be. We no longer need a church within walking distance. Our cars and roads can take us miles away in just a few minutes.
The unintended consequences are great. Now, we no longer have to work to maintain unity with a group of believers. If we quarrel with somebody, or just don’t like them, we can simply change churches. Things will be better there (at least for a while). Church discipline goes by the wayside as well — if a member doesn’t want to hear the hard truth about sin, they can probably find another group who won’t hold them accountable. In fact, it’s no problem to get lost in a large church, to attend worship services without getting to know anybody well at all. With the recent advent of COVID, and more churches airing their services on ZOOM or YouTube, we’ve removed ourselves even further from a true church community.
I’ve been blessed to belong to small churches all of my life. Some of the folks have belonged to the same church all of their lives; others are committed to a specific denomination. They know each other. They know one another’s family. They become surrogate parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to the children of the congregation. Do they always get along? Do they like everybody? No. But in Christ, they learn to love one another and work together.
Of course, there are sometimes good reasons to leave a church. Maybe a job change leads to a move. Sometimes we find the theology is just wrong. Sometimes God calls us to a different place. But make sure you’re not becoming a “consumer Christian.” Church is not about pleasing ourselves. It’s about unity — unity with Christ and with one another.
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