The Importance of the Local Church
Church. Lots of us love it. Some of us hate it. Maybe, you’ve never stepped foot in a church before. You may think that attending your local church on a Sunday is no big deal. This cannot be your thought process if you wear the title of Jesus follower. It brings Christ joy when we gather together because he loves the church, so we must also love the church.
Acts 2 has a wonderful chunk of text exemplifying a beautiful and healthy church community. Starting in verse 42, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
How great does that sound? Right before this, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and were speaking in other languages so that those hearing could hear the Gospel in their own language. There were three thousand people saved and baptized that day. THREE THOUSAND people and they didn’t throw up a peace sign and go home after that. They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship”. For those new believers, hearing the Gospel spoken and being in community wasn't a halfhearted "I'll show up if I have time"; it was a necessary part of their lives and it should be for us too.
The community in Acts was devoted and in turn "awe came upon every soul" and "wonders and signs were being done through the apostles” and they were selling everything they had in order to help each other "as any had need". They had "glad and generous hearts''. I understand, I'm just repeating most of the verse above to you, but this community is the kind of community God wants you to long for. Are you viewing the people as those whom you'd sell everything you had for? Do you think of your church and feel your heart fill with gladness and generosity? Do you look forward to being there at all? Christ does. He views the people sitting around you in church (and those not) as people worth giving up life in Heaven for. If that wasn’t enough, Jesus gave up his life on Earth for you and everyone around you as well. Jesus’ heart of gladness and generosity towards the church should be reflected in our own.
It’s important to remember that we are broken and sinful people. Our hearts aren’t always going to love or even like the church and the church isn’t perfect either. They can hurt and twist people away from God both on purpose and on accident. The church is a whole bunch of imperfect people coming together to worship a perfect God. Be a part of that. Not just by showing up on a Sunday morning and ducking out before anyone can talk to you, but by joining a Bible study, sticking around to meet people, and serving where the church needs it. Seriously, if you are struggling to love your church, serve. Sit down with Jesus and confess to him that you need his help to care about the church and ask him to open doors for you to contribute to your community. Serving people helps you know them, knowing them helps you love them, loving them reflects Jesus.
Faithfully loving and participating in your local church brings the Lord incredible joy. In Acts, the community is devoted to each other and “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” When we love each other well, people can’t help but be drawn to the church and hear about what makes us different and then we get to share the Gospel! Which gives us more community to love and cherish and more people are drawn to that and then so on and so forth. By loving your church like Jesus loves the church, doors are opened to share the Gospel and serve God as we were made to.
If you aren’t sure how you feel about Jesus or if you haven’t given your life to him. Church might seem scary and kind of weird, but consider the picture of community that’s been laid out in Acts. Go to a church near you. You don’t have to have everything figured out in order to come to church and be part of the community. You can ask questions and express your doubts and have honest conversations. 24:7’s local church in Iowa City is Parkview. We’d love to see you on a Sunday. More information on our church services are at parkviewchurch.org and/or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for rides/questions/anything else you might need.
By Gabi Houk