I think many people are scared away from church by the relational aspect. Let’s face it, churches can be messy places sometimes! Wherever there are people, there are problems. As my friend Grace says, “God’s word points to the gathering of the saints as being beautiful and part of His plan, but also messy and difficult at times.” Combining a bunch of broken people into one huge family and trying to help those people can be an adventure. Even though it can be messy at times, there are many reasons why believers desperately need to be in relationship with each other and to be joined together through a local church.
Everyone has a unique role to fill
As 1 Corinthians 12 reveals, every single member of the church has a different role. In this chapter, Paul describes the church as being a body. Verse 12 says “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Paul says that each person is like a different body part that serves a unique function. While some body parts are more visible than others and consequently receive more credit, ALL the parts are critical to the functioning of the body. Verse 18 says “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” Each member is unique and beautiful on their own, but for them to function properly, they must be joined together. Just as the body needs individual parts, the individual parts need the body. A Christian who is not connected to a church is like a lone eyeball laying on the sidewalk – without the rest of the body, they are horribly out of place and will eventually wither up and die.
The Dangers of Being Alone
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 talks about the benefits of doing life with other people and the dangers of being alone. According to verse 10, if one person falls, their friend can lift them up and get them back on their feet. However, if someone is alone when then fall, they are in a horrible situation. Alone, we are weak and susceptible to attack. Together, we are strong and can stand against the enemy’s attacks. Verse 12 says “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Of course, it often goes against our nature to seek help from other people. Especially in our individualistic American culture, we are taught to be independent and handle problems on our own. However, the church is not individualistic, but collectivistic. In the church, we are designed to all work together and to do life with each other.
Restoration of the Broken
The church is like a hospital: as people come in with their hurts, the church provides healing and rehabilitation. Especially when people make mistakes, the church can be God’s hands and feet by showing grace, even in difficult situations. Through the church, we remember that there is always hope for every person. When the people in the church exhibit God’s love, they can bring God’s restoration to a hurting world. Even when someone falls away from the church, the seeds of the Gospel planted by the church remain, and those seeds can help bring that person back to their local body of believers. The members of the church can also help to bring people back by praying for them. The church has incredible reconciling power.
Learning to handle relational drama in the church builds character in each church member and makes the whole body stronger. Just as we must have grace in our relationships with family members and friends, we must have grace for the people in our churches. While relationships in the church can sometimes entail drama, most of the time these relationships are beautiful and beneficial. The Bible shows that all believers need to be in relationship with their local body of believers for each member to remain healthy and for the body of Christ to function properly.