Every congregation rightfully urges all the members to faithfully attend the services. We often talk of how needed people are at the services, and in the Lord’s work. And that’s right. But it’s not the most urgent reason why people should attend all the services of the church, or be a working part of a local congregation.
The fact is, the Church will always do more for us than we can ever do for the Church. Did Noah do more for the ark, or did the ark do more for Noah? Well, without Noah the ark wouldn’t have been built, right? Are you sure about that? Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord Jehovah, but if not Noah somebody else may have obeyed and built the ark. God architected the ark. Noah was merely God’s instrument. God rewarded Noah and his family for being His instruments.
And so it is with the Church. God engineered it. Christ died to establish it. You and I make it up. We’re God’s instruments in the Church. If we leave it, others will fill our place. The church will continue until God sends Christ to claim the faithful – who, like the passengers of the ark, will all be found faithfully serving INSIDE the Church. The truth is, there will be faithful people serving inside the Church whether we do or not.
Certainly, the Church could use the talents we all bring. Certainly, the body of Christ in your local congregation is made better if every member is properly in place and hard at work. However, the Church goes on, but spiritual lives cannot survive without the Church.
The fact is, YOU need the Church much more than the Church needs you. That’s not to minimize the value or benefits we each provide the body of Christ. We are indeed many members yet we make up one body. And we certainly are more powerful together when we all stand in our place. But if we fail to take up our place, somebody else will fill the gap.
Sure, the workload on others may be increased because of our neglect, but the work must go on. Sure, the work may grow more discouraging because of our unreliability, but people will overcome that and press on. Sure, other men may have to fulfill multiple roles during the public service because of our failure to show up, but the worship will still go on. Week after week the Lord’s work is getting done because of the faithful few who have made up their minds to join themselves to the work. Like all areas of human endeavor, the few seem to do the work of the many.
The hard fact is, the Church can move forward without us – perhaps not as efficiently, but it will move on. However, none of us can move toward Heaven without the Church. If we fail to join ourselves faithfully to a local congregation – a congregation where we can be counted on to attend the services, a congregation where we’re held accountable, a congregation interested in us and concerned about us, a congregation where we’re concerned with helping others – then we risk Heaven.
The scriptures don’t teach us to be members-at-large, but too many Christians want to roam from congregation to congregation so they can avoid responsibility. They don’t want to be accountable. They don’t want to be part of the work. So they neglect it, and avoid it. The Church isn’t improved by that, but worse yet – their lives aren’t either. Sadly, they think that by “going to Church” somewhere – they’re working for the Lord.
Brethren, it’s not about numbers or any other man-made barometer of strength. It’s about OUR NEED for what the Church provides – namely, salvation! The objective is ever before us, Heaven! The goal of every local congregation should be to do everything possible to help each member of that congregation reach Heaven. That work is made increasingly difficult when members neglect and avoid their individual responsibilities to the Church.*
*And I must point out here – our neglect is sometimes aimed at men. Somebody preaches something we don’t like, somebody says something we disagree with, somebody doesn’t speak to us, somebody does something that makes us angry and we begin to shrink back, but it’s the Lord’s Church – not those people – who suffer. It’s our soul that suffers, not those people.
Maybe you didn’t know how important the local congregation is to your future destiny. Maybe you didn’t know the burden you put on others when you’re not where you should be. Maybe you failed to realize that being in place, and doing your part, helps the Lord’s Church be everything she should be. Maybe you neglected to consider how important you are to the Church, but maybe you failed even more to realize how important the Church is to YOU.
The Lord died for the Church. He “gave Himself” for the Church. It’s fitting and proper that we give ourselves to the Church, too. In Christ is where all spiritual blessings are found. To be in Christ is to be in His Church. You cannot faithfully serve God unless you are faithfully serving Him inside a local congregation.