Don't give up on church
Do you believe in God but not the church?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
“I believe in God, but I don’t believe in the church.”
I’ve heard this statement countless times. When asked why, people usually respond with some variation of “I’ve been deeply hurt by the church. I don’t really need anyone else.”
Sometimes when people think of the word “church”, their first thoughts center on corruption, greed, prejudice, and hate. It can be easy to get discouraged if this has been your past church experience. The truth is, this is not what the Church is supposed to look like.
Unfortunately, not every church shows Jesus’ love well, but there are plenty of churches that do! I hope this devotional paints a picture for you of how a true Christ-centered community is supposed to look and renews your belief that being a part of a church community is a necessary part of your walk with God.
Here are some things to think about if you’re questioning the necessity of church or feeling discouraged about your past experiences:
- At its core, the Church was designed to draw people closer to God.
Reading Acts 2:42-47, you’ll get a glimpse of how a church is supposed to look. Picture it: a community of people living life together, helping each other, and praying for each other. The mark of a genuine and loving church lies in the last verse of that passage: “people were being saved when they saw the members of that church together”. Remember that the Church’s essential function is to bring people closer to God, not drive them away.
- Churches are made of broken people.
No church is going to be perfect because people are not perfect. If you read through any of Paul’s letters in the New Testament, you’ll learn very quickly that even the early churches made big mistakes.
Paul admonishes the church in Corinth because they were divided over who to follow (1 Corinthians 3:4-9). This church couldn’t even remember that Jesus was the one they were supposed to follow first!
That’s just one of many examples of brokenness in the churches of the Bible. They weren’t immune to sin and brokenness and neither are we. The good news is that God continually extends His grace to us when we make mistakes, and we should extend that grace to others. In a healthy church body, we are constantly forgiving and helping each other learn from our mistakes.
- We NEED community.
Jesus says we NEED each other (Matthew 18:20, John 13:34, John 15:12-13). We were not designed to live life alone. Even in the very beginning, God recognized our need for community (Genesis 2:18a). We also read in 1 Corinthians 12:12- 31 that each member of the church has a very special and specific role, and we only function effectively when we work together. We need Christ-centered people in our lives so we can support and challenge each other as we grow closer to God every day (Proverbs 27:17).
- Satan uses our wounds and hurts to isolate us, but Jesus offers healing and restoration through community.
When we let our hurts or our search for perfection keep us from being in community with other believers, Satan will use our isolation to attack and discourage us. But when we are bonded together with others who love and follow Jesus, we are not so easily destroyed (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12).
There is hope for those who have been hurt by the church. Jesus offers healing from all wounds and can use the things we have been through to help us grow and to help those around us grow.
If we give up on the church, we miss out on opportunities for sharing our faith and helping others grow closer to Jesus. Being a part of a church is not just about what other people can do for you. It’s also about how you can support and serve others. By isolating yourself from Christ-centered community, you miss out on opportunities for growth, family, and spiritual development.
Remember: we are stronger together. We need our church community.
Pray this week:
Thank You, Lord, for designing us to be in fellowship with other Christians. I want to be part of helping others grow closer to You.
Do you have a good church to attend? If not, what are you looking for in a church?