Thursday, October 14, 2010

Questions about church (Part 4)

Today we wrap up the series Questions about church. A big thanks to Angela for the idea for this (hope this helps answer some of your questions too). There is, of course, a lot more to say on this subject, but this should at least help us get started and moving in the right direction for answers.

Next question:

Did he (Jesus) tell us that we should be connected locally somewhere?

I wish there was a verse in the Gospels that said, “You must commit yourself to a local fellowship,” but there isn’t. What we do have though is probably just as good. Context. First context shows us that Jesus was connected locally to the Jewish people and practices. He went to the synagogue regularly. He participated in the Jewish festival and feasts. His life reveals that He was connected locally. Furthermore, context tells us that the Gospels were written to local churches. For example, the Gospel of Mark was a written to a local church in Rome. If it were not for people committed to meeting locally then our New Testament would not be what it is today. The audience of the entire New Testament is the local church.

The Gospels helped people know how to live. It helped them see what they could become by looking at Jesus. It gave them the vision for the type of life they could have as Christians. They were helpful personally and corporately. They revealed how true brothers and sisters in Christ should live with one another. If these early Christians were connected to a local fellowship they would haven’t heard the Gospels because they were usually read when the church gathered. People didn’t have the luxury of taking a Bible home with them. They had to be connected locally to hear the Gospel. Again, context helps us understand this.

When Paul wrote to a church the letter he was writing was first and foremost to that church. Just look at the beginning of his letters. Usually he was addressing problems or answering questions. When he used the word ekklesia (church) he had a specific and local church in mind. Usually it would be the one he was writing to. Church wasn’t an abstract group of people all over the world who believed in Jesus. Church was a group of Christians assembled together in a particular place (usually a house because there was nowhere else to meet) to worship God through Jesus.

Think about this, how do you really minister to someone if you don’t show them commitment on your part to be connected to a local church? If you are not committed you won’t be able to build quality relationships with others. If you don’t build quality relationships with others then you won’t really get to discover their needs and how to really pray for them. You lose your ability to help in a helpful way. Maybe such thoughts are what led the author of Hebrews to write, “Let us not neglect our meeting together”.

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