The challenge of the church in the 21st century is to make itself less of an institution and more of a community…less led by people prone to call a meeting than by people prone to start a conversation.
Let’s admit it – basically the church has only two things to offer the world: Christ and community.
By Christ we mean Jesus Christ who is God and came to reveal the Father to His people. We mean Jesus who said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Live. The only way into Heaven after death. We mean Jesus who died for our sins and then invited us to receive His forgiveness for those sins and to enter into a relationship with Him – which is really a relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit as well. This is a supernatural relationship with the Holy Trinity. He invites us into “community.”
By community we must mean something different than Facebook community … better words: connectedness and relationships. But, not just a relationship with a heavenly community (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) but also an earthly community called the Church. According to the Bible there is no such thing as being a Christian and not belonging to and being connected to a local church. We are, each one of us, members of the Body of Christ and the member of the body cannot survive without the body. Therefore, if you are a believer and are not interconnected with other believers in one local assembly of believers – accountable, functioning, responsible – then you a member who is AWOIL and you will simply die out there disconnected.
The Christian faith is all about being connected – not disconnected. It is more than believing it is belonging. Only in relationships do we discover God in His fullness. Only in relationship do we discover what it means to be fully human. Only in relationship do we discover who we really are. Relationships precedes identity – always has, even when you were a little baby. As you identified with your father and mother you found identity – discovering yourself and who you really are. A life-long process of course but always located within relationships.
So it is with the Christian when we are born again. Only in relationships do we truly find our identity as a believer and as a member of the Body of Christ.
So “withness” is vitally important. It was to Jesus as He immediately called together “His church” consisting of a leadership team of 12 and followers numbering up over 600 at one time. He was with them sharing life. We, as believers today, must be with other believers sharing the same life – the life and nature of God as found only in Jesus Christ. Withness before witness – then you have something to share – the Gospel and yourself because you will have come to know the real you as found only in withness.
So, please – if you are prompted to witness about your faith and yet are not connected in healthy relationships with other believers in a local church – sit down and shut up. Do us all a favour and don’t tell others you are a born again believer. After all, you are not a good example of what being a Christian is all about and you need to focus on your own life and relationship first. Hard to invite someone to experience something you are not (and maybe never have) experienced.