26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
You are. You are all one. Our identity as Christians is communal. There is no Christian that exists separate from the church. Of course, we know that many Christians do not participate in the church community. From God’s perspective, these are not individual Christians, but a part of the body that offers no support to the rest of the body. It’s a body part suffering paralysis.
The church is difficult. It’s God’s intention that the church would be a place of both truth and love. These do not always play well together. Often, to hear the truth does not ‘feel’ loving.
It is also God’s intention that the church be both a sanctuary and a hospital. A sanctuary is a place of rest, peace, and positivity. Hospitals are full of stress, irritability, pain, suffering, and death.
Yet, it is also God’s intention that the church would be the illuminating point of His manifold wisdom. And the Bible says if it costs you all you have, get wisdom. If the church is the apex of God’s wisdom and we are called to get wisdom at all costs, then we must participate in the church community.
We must release the expectation that church life will always be sweet and pleasant. The human body is our example. The physical body deals with ailments from within such as sickness or the effects of old age. The body also experiences hardship from the outside world such as car wrecks and stepping off the curb unexpectedly. However, because the body remains together, when one area struggles, other parts work to support and heal as blood supplies the body with what it needs.
In the church, there are internal struggles because no one in the church is perfect. People get offended. They act inappropriately. There are blows from outside the church such as the pressure we feel from work and the temptations of our culture. But if we stay together allowing the blood of Christ to supply us with what we need, then each body part helps the other in times of weakness for healing and growth.
Prayer: Lord, help me not to simply go to church, but teach me to live life with the church. Let internal struggles stretch my faith and love to remain. And let the outside issues of life press me into those fighting the same fight of faith for mutual support. Amen.