Tears flowed down my cheeks as I surveyed the room of friends, all of whom seemed more like family. The event was a shower for my fiancé and me in honor of our upcoming wedding.
As I thanked everyone for their generous gifts and the hosts for the lovely meal, I found myself choked up with bittersweet tears. On one hand, I was absolutely gitty to marry the man of my dreams and thrilled for our new life together. On the other hand, I’m heavy hearted over my upcoming move that will take me to a new city, away from my home church and close friends. In many ways I felt like I was saying goodbye to my spiritual birthplace.
With a quick trip around the room, my fiancé walked through a living history of my life:
- Here are my best friends. We met in a Bible Study class over a decade ago.
- These are the girls from my prayer group…they prayed for you for years!
- Oh, here is the Pastor who first asked me to teach a Bible study class.
- Here is my mentor, and her husband. Where in the world would I be without her?
- And this is the friend who walked me through my wilderness season.
Seated before this group, with gift-wrappings strewn about my feet, I realized the answer to a very important question that girls ask: “Why Church?” I hear the statement all the time. “I’m cool with Jesus, but I don’t like church.” Some people think church is an obligation or chore, while others think church is completely outdated. Pondering the unbelievable role that the assembled group played in my life over 15 years… I knew without a doubt the answer to the question.
Church is not a building. Church is not a meeting. The church, according to the Bible, is the Body of Christ. The word “church” means “the called-out ones.” A gathering of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, who are called out of the world and who choose to assemble together as His body to serve and to worship. We are the church. As such, we are Jesus to one another.
As I reflected on the impact my home church had on my life since trusting Jesus, I wept. I’m leaving more than just friends. I’m leaving my spiritual family. Truly, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all sons and daughters of the King and our relationships are far deeper than anything the world has to offer.
One of the greatest cravings of the human heart is community and God has designed it so that through His church, that need is richly met. At different moments in my life I’ve pondered how those who aren’t involved in a local church make it through the scrapes and tumbles we face in life. When I’ve fallen down, it’s been a sister or brother in Christ who has been there, hand stretched out, to help me stand up again.
My community of Christ followers has been the tangible hands and feet of Jesus to me. Comfort, encouragement, laughter, truth, prayer and accountability. We’ve walked life together. Pointing each other to Jesus and helping one another to love and serve Him more.
I’m so grateful for my church. Not only did I first learn about Jesus there, but I also was fed a rich diet of God’s word so I could grow in maturity.
So… if you are new to following Jesus or if you’ve been a follower of years, let me encouarage you with these words… active involvement in your local church is not only your calling as Christ follower, but it is good for your soul.
Our challenge to you this week is this: Find a church home and develop community. If you are already in one… serve. Not only do you need it, but it needs you.
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God—Colossians 3:14-16.