Picture this Scene. A little baby boy is born in a hospital and everyone is so excited. However, when it comes time to take him home, the parents say, “we think he should stay here with you.” While such would never happen to a child born into a loving or even semi-loving family, the question is why? The answer is because we all realize that a baby needs a home. A place to be nourished, protected, cared for and loved. A place to grow and mature. Thankfully, God has provided the family to serve just such a need.
If only there was a place where the new-born child of God could go to find something similar! A Home and a Family. A Place where they could be nourished, protected and loved. A place where they could grow and mature. Now that I think about it, I think that there is such a place. It is called the local church and family of God.
It is in the context of this family setting that we find the following exhortations. “Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb.3:12-14). “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb.10:24). The “one another” passages of the NT can only truly be fulfilled in the context of the local assembly of believers.
Thus, when it comes to the subject of spiritual growth, which God expects of each one of us, God has not left us alone. God knew that on our own we would be much more vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy and the lures of the world. Thus, in addition to the Word and Prayer, God has blessed each of us with a spiritual family in which we can find everything we need to grow into spiritually healthy and mature Christians. From a practical standpoint, God’s provisions for us as members of His family (belonging, support and encouragement) are realized in the fellowship of a local congregation of the Lord’s people.
It is in such arrangements that we can be under the oversight, guidance and protection of a group of elders whose job it is to watch out for our souls. It is in the local church that we can remain in close contact with like-minded and like-purposed individuals. It is in the local church that we can be encouraged in our struggles, applauded in our victories and admonished when needed. It is as a part of a local body of believers that we have access to all these blessings and more a thus it amazes me that I have actually had people argue with me about the importance and/or need of being a part of a local church.
To appropriate God’s blessing of the local family we must first join ourselves to a local collection of believers in Christ and then we must become involved in the life, worship, work and fellowship of that group. It is in this area that I want to close by considering 2 Important Truths. First, unlike the physical world, in the church we do get to choose which family to be a part of. However, when you choose that work then be a part of it—there is too much “church hopping” in the church today. Second, as is true in the physical family, we can isolate ourselves from our spiritual family and thus lose the blessings and provisions of being in that family to begin with, so stay connected.
In the local church we should not only find love, support and encouragement as we seek to grow and mature in our walk with God, but we also have the opportunity and responsibility to give such back to others. Thank God for the Family.
Jackson church of Christ