Some people enjoy going to church. They enjoy the company (even on holiday among strangers), they enjoy singing, they enjoy space in a busy week, they find the sermon interesting, the prayers touching and themselves somehow changed by the experience.
Others don’t like the vicar, don’t like guitars or organs, find the sermon dull, the prayers too long and don’t want to get to know their fellow worshippers. On the level of taste it would seem as if church is as much of an option as the golf club, a political club, a supermarket or anything else.
We would like to think church is or should be different. Why?
1 Peter 2.4-5,9-10
The teaching of these verses mirrors Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12.
- If we are Christians, we belong to Christ. That’s much stronger than remembering him, admiring him, being inspired by him or anything else. It is as life-changing as marriage. The church is where Christ is worshipped so it is as natural to be there as at the house of any friend or relation. Belonging to a church reflects and expresses belonging to Jesus.
- As Christians we belong to each other. Christians are a team, a family. We belong together. We are part of what God is building like individual stones or bricks. This involves humility – we will have others beside us and above and below us. None of us is that important apart from Christ the foundation stone. Stones do not have wills of their own; they are available to the builder. As Christians we are available for God to use us as he wishes.
But how can we answer God’s call if we hardly know him?
In church services we make ourselves available to him in prayer and silence. We listen to him in sermons, dramas and Bible readings. We encourage and help one another at family gatherings. We discover our particular talents and abilities and begin using them as part of the team. (See 1 Corinthians 12) We work together, we pray together, we study the Bible together, we say thank you together, we support each other through prayer and practical help.
We are a non-participating society nowadays. We use soaps for friendships, quiz shows for knowledge and TV sport for leisure. If we have faith but do not come to church we fail to feed ourselves. We fail to keep warm in our faith (like a coal dropping out of the fire). We fail to serve others as part of God’s team. We do not develop into the people God made us to be.
Marriages need working at. What kind of bridegroom are we to Christ?
Will he recognise us as partners when we come to stand before him?