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The Church: How Is It Built?

TheChurch-HowIsItBuilt

 


Sermon Passage: Matthew 16:13-20

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 


Article: Why We Gather

by Addison Hamrick

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

There is something mysterious and profound about the way that God has made all of us. When God created mankind he intertwined both soul and body, and he did so in such a way that what affects the body affects the soul and vice versa. And not only that, He also made us in his image as relational beings. (Gen. 1:26-27) We were made to be in relationship with God and with others. And this was God’s intention from the beginning: for his people to be physically gathered with him. We see this in the garden when Adam and Eve walked with God (Gen. 3:8), or when God established the nation of Israel and brought them to the promised land (Joshua 1), or when the eternal Son of God came down in flesh to dwell with his people (John 1:14), and when God’s people will see him face to face and dwell physically with him in the new heavens and the new earth (Rev 21-22). All of this points to an essential reality for Christians: we are meant to gather together with God. 

But why? Hebrews 10:24-25 provides us with a good framework of why the physical gathering of God’s people is essential to the health of the body. When we disconnect ourselves from the body, from the physical gathering, we cut ourselves off from the very means by which Christ grows us, cares for us, and protects us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together puts it this way: “The physical presence of other believers is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.” The mere presence of other Christians is used by God to strengthen our faith and remind us of the joy that is found in Christ. On this side of eternity, the local church is where you and I most tangibly experience the presence of Christ in our lives. With this in mind, what do you and I miss when we fail to gather physically as a church?

I think this question is best answered through a personal story. A few months ago my wife and I both woke up on Sunday morning feeling spiritually dry, mentally exhausted, and physically worn out. If it weren’t for the fact that I work at the church, we probably would have stayed home and streamed the service. We had no desire to come and gather. But we came anyway, and we are so thankful that we did because God ministered to us in such a profound way that morning. As we entered the church building we saw faces of people who care for us and they greeted us as they would their own family. As we were walking through the maze that is our church building we encountered a member of the prayer team and they stopped us to let us know that they prayed for us by name that morning. We then took our place in the pew and sat next to people from our community group, and we were reminded of how kind Jesus is to put friends in our life who know us and love us. We then began to sing gospel truths as a church, truths that my heart was struggling to believe that morning, and as I heard hundreds of other people proclaim these truths, God began to use them to strengthen my faith and increase my joy. After we finished singing we prayed corporately for an unreached nation, and in that moment I was reminded of the Great Commission and how God has called all of us to play a role in getting the gospel to those who have never heard. Following our time of corporate prayer,  we sat under the preached Word of God. And as we received the Word we were reminded of how God uses his Word to shape his people and he began to give me a desire for his Word again. After the sermon we all took the Lord’s Supper and were reminded of the greatest truth there is: that Christ died for me. 

At every moment during church, my wife and I were reminded that we are not alone, and that church is far more than an information transfer from the preacher to the congregation. It is in the physical gathering of God’s people where we tangibly experience the love of Christ and the hope of the gospel. And this is why we gather. It is what a family does and it is what a family needs. And when we fail to gather physically, we cut ourselves off from the very means of grace that we need to persevere as followers of Christ.