Last month I wrote a post entitled Three Reasons to go to Church Today. Take a moment and read that post to get some context.
This afternoon I want to add a 4th reason.
4. The World needs to see the gospel implications of life together
On several levels this has been a tough week as a Nation. We see racial tensions still existing on both the left and the right. We've seen the tragic terrorism in Dallas with the loss of 5 brave police officers. We continue to be divided on a whole host of issues as Americans.
And maybe it's just me, but I've seen a lot of people posting on social media about us just needing to come together and love people better, etc.
A major problem I've noticed is that a lot of these supposedly well meaning posts are by people who are not regularly involved in a local church. But it is in and through the local church that we both really learn how to love and put into tangible expression loving those different than us (Philippians 2:1-4). It is inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst to claim to be a Christian talking about how we just need to 'love better' when we are not regularly gathering with the local church (1 Jn 3:14).
I see memes and stats and arguments from both sides, but we cannot reasonably hope for any sort of real solution to these tensions without the local church. That may seem far fetched on first glance, but read the New Testament. It was the church who was given the great commission. It was the church who first witnessed the undoing of Genisis 11 in Acts 2. It is through the church that the mystery of God is revealed in reconciling the Nations to Himself in Christ (Eph. 3:10).
The gospel is not merely personal. Yes, you must place your personal faith in Christ as your only suitable and all sufficient Savior. However, the gospel not only reconciles us to God, but also our fellow man (see for example Titus 3:3). This isn't reconciliation simply with those we already are like! It's easy to love people who look, talk, dress, vote, and think like you do. But the gospel is reconciling people from diverse backgrounds together in Christ.
The world needs to see the gospel implications of life together in the local church. What does it look like to love those who are different than us? This should be tangibly expressed in the local church on a weekly (if not sometime daily) basis "where there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). You can't say you're a Believer and that you really care about what's happening in our Nation, and then regularly sit Sundays out. Yes, church life is more than just gathering on Sunday. But it is not less.
I am not saying this is the only reason to gather with the local church (read the first post). But it is an important reason. And it may be that you need to be intentional in this regard. You may need to intentionally make contact tomorrow with a fellow believer who is older or younger than you, or you has a different skin color, or who is of a different socioeconomic class, or who has a different stance on gun control than you do, so that you can show others what it looks like for God to reconcile the world to Himself in Christ.
Finally, let me again warn us of the foolishness of the affinity based model of church planting. The picture the world needs to see is diversity unified in Jesus. Not diverse subgroups creating their own little brand of church.
Gather with the church tomorrow Saints. You're not only commanded to, and benefited by it, but through it you may actually be a part of the solution to all that's happening in our society today.