You Need Church – With its Faults!
An article from SVM Winter 2010
And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries (Hebrews 10:24-27, NAU).
What a strong admonition for Christians to assemble together on a regular basis! The writer connects the forsaking of assembly and mutual encouragement with loss of salvation! Why, then, do so many people have trouble going to a church? Nearly all will point to hypocrisy, errors, and injustice that they have seen in a church group. Are they right? In most cases, “Yes.” Jesus spoke a whole chapter (Matthew 23) pointing out the hypocrisy and error of the synagogues, the religious assemblies of his day. Later, He spoke two chapters pointing out the errors (and the strengths) of seven Christian churches (Revelation 2 & 3).
Why are we supposed to go to these Church congregations when they are full of faults? Because the Christian has not only the responsibility to learn there, but also to do good works, set a good example and teach others there. In His Messages to the Seven Churches, Christ told every person to repent of their sins, and to overcome and do the good works of their congregation. He did not tell anyone to leave their congregation because of its sin.
It is not enough for us simply to know the faults of a particular congregation. And if we are spiritual, it is our responsibility to help solve the problems! Strong words? Read on:
Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge (James 4:11).
If we consider ourselves new believers, without a mature understanding of the law of God, then we do not have to judge other believers who appear to be sinning. It is enough for us to do what is right ourselves. If we do consider ourselves to be spiritually mature, then it is our responsibility to help others overcome as we are able:
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted (Galatians 6:1).
The church is not just a place for us to benefit from the spirituality of others. It also is a place where others are to benefit from us. The Apostle Paul tells us how we can know whether to be quiet and not judge or to become involved in others’ faults. To help others overcome sin, we need 1) to be gentle, and 2) to help without sinning ourselves. The Bible does not give the Christian any “middle ground.” The Christian cannot say: “I am spiritual enough to recognize the sins in a church congregation but not spiritual enough to help correct them, so I just won’t go.” This is the genesis of what the writer of Hebrews warns his readers about. Isolationism, whether by fear, fastidiousness, self-conceit, or other reasons risks becoming a willful turning away.
No churches near me; what do I do?
Some congregations—especially those that meet in homes or rented buildings—are very hard to find. Try visiting every nearby church you know about and ask people there about other groups known to them. If you are remote, try to connect with ministries by various means available in our modern age. You will probably be surprised at the results!
I am not healthy enough to attend
God never expects us to do what we cannot do. If one is ill and promises God he will attend regularly if He heals, and God does not heal, then God is not requiring them to attend. God is a fair judge. He knows who is able to attend and who cannot.
Jesus, the most spiritual of all, did not remove himself from temptation but befriended notorious sinners (Matt 9:11-13) and endured the sins of his own disciples (Matt 26:31). He was tempted just like we are, but He did not sin (Heb 4:15). Jesus went on to die for all of us while we were sinners (Rom 5:8). Christ said His disciples would be known by their love for each other (John 13:34-35), and that the greatest love is laying down one’s life for another (John 15:13). If Christ suffered and congregation to be a blessing to the others there. God is not perfecting a church denomination, organization, program, or building. He is perfecting you and the rest of us too (Matt 5:48). If you can, find a congregation where you can learn as well as serve and be a blessing to others. Go there. Do His Work.