“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35, NLT)
The Bible says a Christian without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, or a child without a family. It is an unnatural state. The Bible says, “You belong in God’s household with every other Christian” (Ephesians 2:19b, LB).
Today’s culture of independent individualism has created many spiritual orphans—“bunny believers” who hop around from one church to another without any identity, accountability or commitment. Many believe it is possible to be a “good Christian” without joining (or even attending) a local church, but God would strongly disagree.
The church is so significant that Jesus died on the cross for it: “...Christ loved the church and gave his life for it” (Eph. 5:25 GW).
Except for a few important exceptions referring to all believers throughout history, almost every time the word "church" is used in the Bible it refers to a local, visible congregation.
The New Testament assumes membership in a local congregation. The only Christians not members of a local fellowship were those under church discipline who had been removed from the fellowship because of gross public sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Galatians 6:1-5).
The Bible offers many compelling reasons why you need to be committed and active in a local fellowship.
A church family identifies you as a genuine believer. I can’t claim to follow Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35 NLT).
When we come together in love as a church family from different backgrounds, race, and social status, it is a witness to the world (Galatians 3:28 MSG; see also John 17:21).
Talk About It
- In what other ways do you identify yourself as a church member besides having your name on a list?
- How do you respond to people who say they’ve stopped attending church because of an experience in their past?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional © Copyright 2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.