Christian Devotionals
"Why Belong To A Local Church?"

Why belong to a local church? (1)
"We...form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."Romans 12:5 NIV

Why belong to a local church?

To help you find and fulfill your life's purpose! What good is a steering wheel without a car? It has no value, function, or fulfillment. You only discover your role in life through a relationship with Christ - and others! Listen: "Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body. But as a chopped-off finger or a cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we?" (Ro 12:4-5 TM). Disconnected from the life-blood of the local church, you wander and wither. That's why one of the first symptoms of spiritual decline is inconsistent attendance at worship services. Without a church home you're like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, or a child without a family - you're a spiritual orphan. Or worse, you're a bunny-believer, hopping from one church to another without any identity, accountability, measurable growth or commitment.

Your church is a classroom for learning how to get along with God's family - for practicing unselfish love. There you learn to care about others and share in their experience. Listen: "If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor" (1Co 12:26 NCV). Only in regular contact with ordinary imperfect believers, can we enjoy real fellowship and experience the New Testament truth of being fruitful, connected and dependent on each other.

Why belong to a local church? (2)
"You belong in God's household with every other Christian."Ephesians 2:19 TLB

Why belong to a local church? Because:

(1) It helps you develop spiritual muscle. Listen: "As each part does its own special work, it helps all the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy" (Eph 4:16 NLT). It may seem easier to be holy when nobody's around to see you, but it's a false, untested holiness. Isolation breeds deceitfulness. It's easy to fool ourselves into thinking we're mature when there's no one to challenge us. Real maturity only shows up in the give-and-take of relationships.

(2) It can keep you from backsliding. Not one of us is immune to temptation. Given the right situation, we're all capable of blowing it! Listen: "Encourage one another that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Heb 3:13 NIV). "Mind your own business" shouldn't be in your vocabulary. We're called to be involved in each other's lives! If you know somebody who's wavering spiritually right now, it's your responsibility to go after them and bring them back into fellowship. James writes: "If you know people who have wandered off from God's truth, don't write them off. Go after them. Get them back" (Jas 5:19 TM).

Why belong to a local church? One of America's most successful pastors answers: "Because it gives us a purpose to live for, people to live with, principles to live by, a profession to live out, and power to live on. There's no other place on earth where you can find all these benefits in one place."

Why belong to a local church? (3)
"They committed themselves together." Acts 2:42 TM

Whenever a child is born, it must become a member of a specific family in order to receive nurture and care and grow up healthy and strong. The same is true of you! The difference between being a church attendee and a church member - is commitment. Attendees are consumers; members are contributors. Attendees want the benefits without any responsibility or accountability. They're like couples who want to live together without committing to a lifetime of marriage. Joining a local church family proves you're committed!

You see, God wants you to love real people, not ideal people. If you find the perfect church, don't join it, or you'll ruin it! You are called to love imperfect people just as God loves you!

The Christians in Jerusalem "committed themselves together," and God expects that same commitment of you. The Christian life is more than just commitment to Christ, it involves commitment to other believers as well. The believers in Macedonia understood this. Listen: "First they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God's will they gave themselves to us as well" (2Co 8:5 TEV). Joining a local church is a natural next step, once you've become a child of God.

You become a Christian by committing yourself to Christ. You become a ?member' by committing yourself to a specific group of believers. The first decision brings salvation, the second brings fellowship and fulfillment - and you need both!

Why belong to a local church? (4)
"You were chosen to live together in peace." Colossians 3:15 CEV

Here are two great benefits to belonging to a local church:

(1) It promotes honesty. Too many of us wear masks. We act as if everything in the garden is rosy when it's not. Such attitudes are the death of real fellowship. Only as we become open do we experience it. Listen: "If we live in the light...we can share fellowship with each other" (1Jn 1:7 NCV). The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. Darkness often hides our issues. But when we're able to bring them out into the light they lose their power, we find forgiveness and cleansing, our wounded areas are made whole, and we begin to move ahead. "Why would anyone take such a risk?" you ask. Because it's the only way to become spiritually and emotionally healthy.

(2) It provides support. We are more consistent in our faith when others walk with us and encourage us. Over 50 times in the New Testament we're told love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, serve one another, teach one another, accept one another, honor one another, bear each other's burdens, forgive one another, submit to one another, be devoted to one another. You're not responsible for everyone in your church, but you are responsible to them. God expects you to do whatever you can to serve them. Paul writes: "I want us to help each other...Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you" (Ro 1:12 NCV).

Why belong to a local church? (5)
"You must make allowance for each other's faults." Colossians 3:13 NLT

Here are two more great benefits of belonging to a local church:

(1) We find sympathy! Sympathy isn't giving advice or offering quick cosmetic help. It's entering into the pain of others. Sympathy says: "I understand what you're going through and what you feel is neither strange, unique or crazy." Sympathy meets two fundamental needs we all have: the need to be understood and the need to have our feelings validated. We're in such a hurry to ?fix' things that we don't take time to listen and empathize with people. Self-pity, and focusing exclusively on our own goals, dries up sympathy for others. It's when circumstances crush them that our friends need us the most. In the midst of his suffering Job cried out: "A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends" (Job 6:14 NIV).

(2) We experience mercy! Fellowship is a place of grace where mistakes are rubbed out, not rubbed in. It happens when mercy wins out over judgment. We all need mercy because we stumble and need help getting back on track. So we need to offer mercy and be willing to receive it! God says: "When people sin, you should forgive and comfort them, so they won't give up in despair" (2 Co 2:7 CEV). It takes massive amounts of grace to create and maintain true fellowship. Why? Because we're imperfect and we'll inevitably keep hurting each other. But you'll never be asked to extend more grace to others, than God has extended to you.

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