Remain in the Body
If the people of the church are the body of Christ, then together we must stand. It’s no secret that Satan loves division, and God’s people need to resist dividing if they want to be effective for the kingdom.
All throughout Acts, the church grew in numbers, breaking bread together, caring for each others’ needs, and acting in unity to ensure the spread of the gospel, which is a big part of why we know it today.
And yet today many believers divide themselves from the body of Christ, or at least drift away from it. While the reasons are as real, numerous, and nuanced as people are, all of them overlook that we were created to need each other and act as a community. The key here is not merely the formal organization of the church (although that is a crucial beginning to gathering and growing together). We need each other, the followers of Jesus, regularly, to keep nourishing each other’s faith, for support as we obey the Great Commission, and yes, to walk in obedience to the word of God in scripture.
“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.” —Hebrews 10:24-25
Sometimes people stop meeting with other believers because they’re hurt, or they’re tired of other believers’ sinfulness. Sometimes they stop because they “just don’t get enough out of it.” But the church was never about an organization of perfect people, or a group of career ministers preaching once a week so you can feel uplifted. The church was established to be a community of believers exhorting, loving, correcting, and serving one another in their individual giftings, whether they were there in full time paid ministry or not (1 Cor. 12:21;28).
If you are distant from the mutual encouragement of the body, that often leads to distance from God. Why wouldn't it? There's no one to lift you up when you need encouragement. There's no one to call you out when you permissively excuse "one little sin."
Brother or sister, if you are a Christian, you still need the body.
You need to pray for others and have them pray for you. You need to restore fellow Christians gently when they are caught in sin, and to be restored yourself (Gal. 6:1). You were not designed to be the whole body and to perform all functions of the church or all the spiritual giftings at all times.
If you are disillusioned with the church as an organization, or with the personal failings and sins of your brothers and sisters in Christ, that should not drive you away from the body (and especially not from God, whose character is perfect and who should never be impugned for the sins of humanity). It should inspire you to pray. Desperately and constantly.
Pray like Jesus prayed for his followers: “‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail,’” (Lk. 22:32); and how he did for his persecutors: “‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,’”(Lk. 23:34).
And if you continue to see the sinfulness that makes you want to give up and leave the body, maybe it's time for you, with the love, patience, kindness, and gentleness you wish they would use, to call that sin to their attention and call them to repentance.
After all, God's kindness leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). You don't have to ignore sin, but you can correct lovingly. Over and over again, if necessary, the same way God does for you.
And if you’re looking for more in your church or your Bible study or your friends—more meaning, more passion, more “something that’s just missing,” maybe you’re the one to bring it there. Maybe you’re the one-person revolution of truth and love for God just waiting to happen, and the people around you need you to serve and teach to inspire that beginning.
Please, do not neglect meeting with other believers. Go to church, or to a prayer meeting, or gather your family and some friends in your kitchen to worship, but meet. Regularly. Frequently. Resolutely.
How can you begin today?
Pray that the church will come together in unity of purpose under God (1 Cor. 1:10)
Resolve conflicts you have with others in the church: forgive, apologize and make right
where you have been at fault, do everything you can to promote peace, put aside
disagreements, and live in harmony with others (Rom. 12:18)
Use your individual giftings to exhort, encourage, strengthen, love, and serve the people
in your church body