There are lots of reasons people might be tempted to give up meeting together with the Lord’s people. Every church, at pretty much any given time, has people who are in danger of drifting away or neglecting the local gathering of the church. Tim Challies – in a recent flashback – outlined some of the reasons we might be tempted to do one. Instead of pressing down the same line here, I want to offer some reasons why you should press into the local church instead.
Your church needs you
You might feel like a fairly significant part of the church or you may feel like you’re a tiny cog in a much larger machine (you may feel, to keep mixing metaphors, out on a limb altogether). But whoever you are, whatever role the Lord has given you to undertake, the local church needs you. The church needs people who will pray for her, who will undertake evangelistic ministry, who will give themselves to a ministry of encouragement, who will see to small tasks that nobody notices, who will preach and lead, who will serve and follow. Everybody is needed.
Whoever you are and whatever your gifts, the Lord has placed you here, at this time, with your specific skills and temperament so that you can glorify him and serve alongside his people where you are. If the Lord has chosen to do that, it is because he think the church needs you.
Your church loves you
If your elders and church members are worthy of the name, however it may feel to you, they love you. Some of us – like me – are much harder to love than others. But love us they do. Their love for Christ leads them to love us too. The apostles John puts it like this, ‘if anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen’ (1 John 4:20). If you are at all convinced that the people in your church love the Lord, then it is highly likely that they also love you.
At the beginning of his first letter, John says this:
That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.1 John 1:3-4
The reason John proclaimed the gospel is ‘so that you too may have fellowship with us’. John says through that fellowship ‘our joy may be complete.’ You will serve the greater joy of your church if you fellowship with them and meet with them.
Your church want the best for you
If your church love you, it will work out in their desire to see the best for you. The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) tells us that the chief end of man is to glorify God (cf. Isa 60:21; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 6:20, 31; Rev 4:11) and to enjoy him forever (Psa 16:5-11, 37:4, 144:15; Php 4:4). Our best is served by doing that for which we were created. It goes on to say that we know how to glorify and enjoy God by reading the scriptures that tell us what we to believe about and what our duties are towards him.
If our ultimate purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, and scripture tells how we are to do that, and one of the things it tells us is to meet together as God’s people, then we are going against the purpose for which we were made. It cannot be to your temporal or eternal good to ignore the purpose for which you were made. Nor can it be to your good to not do what God clearly tells us we ought to do. He doesn’t command such things for his good, but for ours.
Your church – if they love you (and, as we’ve said, they probably do) – also want the best for you. They recognise that your best is served by doing as God commands. They see the command to meet together and want to encourage you in it so that you may find your joy in Christ and glorify God as you were made to do.