Friday, June 2, 2006

Where do You go to Church?

"Let us consider, First, who are properly the Church of God? What is the true meaning of that term? 'The Church at Ephesus,' as the Apostle himself explains it, means, 'the saints,' the holy persons, 'that are in Ephesus,' and there assemble themselves together to worship God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ; whether they did this in one or (as we may probably suppose)in several places." (John Wesley, Sermons, # 74, "Of the Church")

I believe American Evangelical Christianity needs to know something: The New Testament knows nothing of individual religion. Paul didn't write to a Roman, he wrote to the Romans...and to the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians and the Thessalonians. Paul wrote to several churches. (Yes, he wrote to Timothy, Titus and Philemon individually but, even then, he wrote to two pastors and one friend who needed to be reconciled to a slave.)

Community was very important to Paul and it should be important to us. Yes, a person is saved when he repents for himself but he is then to be in fellowship, accountability and service in a local congregation. The Church of God is about a community of faith who are fellow sojourners on the way to heaven together.

With the exception of disability or extreme circumstances (in which God's grace surely is sufficient) I don't believe a person can live a faithful Christian life apart from a commitment to a local church. If someone were to confess to me that he was a believer yet didn't attend worship services then I seriously would question his salvation. (No, not judge him lost but seriously question it.)

In America we don't like people telling us what to do or how to live. We want to be "spiritual" and not "religious." The problem with these beliefs is that they are the opposite of New Testament teachings. Since nobody has all of the gifts, since God created us to be dependent on each other and since God ordained that we be subject to church elders we need to be faithful participants in a local congregation.

So, where do you go to church? :)