Going to church does not make you a Christian. But as someone said, a honey bee without its hive doesn’t stop being a bee. But a bee won’t survive long in a healthy or productive way without its hive and the relationships to all the bees doing their various jobs.
In the same way, it is hard to stay spiritually healthy as a Christian without regularly going to a good church, and serving there.
I have loved preaching slowly through 1 Timothy. I hope it has blessed you. But something I didn’t emphasise enough is the danger of drifting away as a Christian.
Chapter 1:19 speaks of those rejecting the faith; 4:1 speaks of some abandoning the faith; chapter 5:8 of denying the faith. But 6:10 and 6:21 speak of wandering from the faith. There can be a direct rejection of Jesus and the Bible. Or there can be a slow drift.
The 2020 Coronavirus crisis has led us to a moment of great spiritual danger; where we can easily drift from the habit of meeting regularly as Christians (see Hebrews 10:24-25). And so, we do not hear the Word of God so regularly (Heb 3:12-15).
We all know that it was not possible with strict COVID lockdown rules in place. But they have eased greatly, and community transmission is now negligible. And with growth group Bible studies taking a break over summer, the danger of drift is even greater.
Of course, I know it’s been an exceptionally hard year for us all, and the church experience has been impaired.
But if you claim to be a soccer or netball player but only turn up for games irregularly if everything lines up perfectly for you, then your team members will struggle without being able to rely on you, and your own enjoyment of the sport will drift away.
But I do not want to motivate by guilt. I want to motivate by a love that is so much greater than the best sport or club or orchestra or school.
It’s the steadfast love of the Lord that never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. Indeed, despite our repeated failures, they are renewed every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). And we know that for 100%, since while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son… No greater love!
And Jesus did it not just for you as an individual, but for the church, the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27). Your brothers and sisters in Christ need your presence, your gifts, your encouragement. And you need them – just read Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12!
In fact, could I plead with you to actually read and meditate on every Scripture referenced in this letter? What is God saying to you through them?
Then I make these suggestions about church.
If for health or other reasons you cannot safely gather at present, I accept your assessment. But please watch the Livestream every week, and leave a comment, so we know you are engaging. And call the pastoral staff if you’d like a phone call or a visit.
If you have been slow getting back, and there is no health reason to delay, then now is the time to return. Capacity restrictions have eased significantly. And we are allowed to sing.
And then, come every week you can. Do not give less commitment to the bride of Christ, for whom Jesus died, than you would give to your work or sporting team or music group. The danger of wandering from the faith in Jesus is real.