Following Christ means belonging, not just believing!
This may come as a shock to some of us, but ‘church’ was not designed by God to be just a gathering we can attend, but a family to which we can belong! Yes, of course my relationship with Christ is personal, but my loving heavenly Father never intended it to be private. In God’s family we are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity.
Hey sisters, isn’t this wonderful news? We’re not alone anymore! We were created for community, fashioned for fellowship, formed for a family – and none of us can fulfil God’s purposes by ourselves. Nowhere does the Bible ask us to be solitary saints or spiritual hermits, isolated from other believers and deprived of fellowship. But many times it talks of us being put together, joined together, built together, members together, heirs together, fitted together, held together, and one day being caught up together (1 Cor 12:12; Eph 2:21-22, 3:6, 4:16; Col 2:19 and 1 Thess 4:17).
The church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization. Jesus is building us into a family that exists in connection with him and with each other. And because of him we can enjoy relationships of genuine love, forgiveness, and peace with each other. Without Him, our community would simply be a gathering of friends.
In fact, it’s only when regularly interacting with the church community that we can live our life with God in Christ Jesus to the fullest. It’s within the church that God tangibly shows us his grace and teaches us to follow him together. Close connection with each other allows us to bear one another’s burdens, to love one another well, and to experience Jesus reproducing his life in our midst.
Belonging to our church community establishes a base from which we can reliably care for others. True love is not only manifest in affection and action, but also allegiance. Love doesn’t say, “I love these people but don’t need to covenant with them.” Rather, it says, “I love these people enough to covenant with them.” Living the Christian life in community is more than just loose associations when life is fun, but committing to be there for each other when life is hard, in sickness and in sorrow.
Our recent Ladies’ Retreat was a wonderful example of this covenant community in action. Over the weekend, we laughed and cried together, we studied, prayed and played together, and together we learned more about Jesus. We formed new friendships, strengthened old ones, risked being vulnerable with each other, allowing God to speak to and through us to encourage and support one another. What a joy to be part of this beautiful display of God’s grace within our sisterhood family!
So, if eternity is a real thing (which it is), and we are going to be together forever (which we are), then why not starting acting like it today? Make no mistake – for all of us who love Jesus, we will be together as His Church for all of eternity. That may sound scary, but here’s the deal – we can serve and love one another, call each other out, and be there for each other in ways that this world will never understand. And we can (and should) do all of that because we are family. We are family, for eternity!