During my prayer time this morning I felt led to write a note to my youngest son Daniel. He's 16 years old and really remarkable. Unfortunately he's not a fan of mine currently, in fact he thinks I'm rather terrible. A lot of this has to do with the negative influence of his biological father who consistently makes subtle, negative comments to Daniel about me. Plus, Daniel is 16 and going through that whole individuation, separation thing. What I felt led to do was to write him a short note letting him know some of the things that I admire and respect about him. One of those things was that he participates in the church community. He isn't particularly involved in the youth group, but he serves in music, is frequently lending a hand to others serving on Sunday mornings, and he has relationships and invests into the lives of others in the church who do not appear similar to himself - I really like this about Daniel. As I finished writing the note to Daniel I found myself thinking about how much I love the church.
Just for clarification, when I say "church" here I'm referring to a local gathering of Christians. In my mind it could be a traditional church, a small group Bible study, or any other kind of consistent meeting of a group of Christians to encourage one another in their faith and God's Word.
I've read a ton of negative posts concerning the church on the internet. I honestly can not say that I totally disagree with the ones I've read. But, for me, it's like I responded to one wonderful brother in Christ on his blog, the church is still the best gig around.
It seems to me that the reason we're told in Hebrews 10:23-25 to not stop meeting regularly together is because God knew that we need each other. I've noticed in both my own life, as well as others, that when I stop participating in church it's easy for me to drift away from God in other areas of my life, a bit at a time.
I love this whole thing of community in the church. Of being a part of the group, of being very much like a family. Knowing each other, being interested in what's going on in one another's lives, wanting good for each other's lives, praying for one another, encouraging one another. For those of you who we read and comment regularly on what each other has to say, you know that I'm shy. It's not easy for me to come into community. It probably takes me longer than the average person. But throughout my life I've moved a few times because of work, so I've participated in several churches, and I can tell you that community has always eventually "happened" for me. I've currently lived in this town for almost 4 years and I can honestly say that I'm now experiencing community in our church. I love these people and know that I'm loved in return.
Another thing I love about church is that these relationships challenge me and make me better. I'm reminded of how in Ephesians 4:1-3 and Colssians 3:12-14 we're told to bear with one another, to overlook offenses, and be kind. I sure like this aspect of the church community because I need it; the older I get the more I realize that I mess up frequently, that I can be an annoying human being, and that I'm grateful for a lifestyle of forgiveness. Fragile human that I am, I am challenged by the annoying behaviors of others, people sometimes irritate me. I'm grateful that God set up the church so that we are to love each other through our petty annoyances and so become better for the relationships.
I love how the faith of others in church encourages and grows my own faith. There's something about being in an environment that's focused on God, where we're studying His Word and choosing to believe what He says, that nourishes my soul. This kind of environment causes that small amount of faith inside me to grow. I find myself encouraged to face whatever challenges are before me.
I love getting to sing and worship God in that way together with other people. As I write this I think about a small group that I get to be a part of that meets every other week. There are only four of us women who've met for this past year together. One of us is talented with the guitar and she brings it every time so we can sing together. Words can not express the joy this activity brings me, there's such a sweetness in it. Although I routinely spend time in the mornings or during my day singing to God, there's something so special about joining with others to sing and praise God. One of my favorite parts of Sunday morning service is to sing with others in a congregational service.
The church is like me in that it's not perfect. There are a lot of things wrong with it. But I still love the church.
What about you, what are some things that you love about church?
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