By Nate Keeler, @MBCArlington Campus Pastor
Have you ever heard someone say, “I love Christ, but I don’t love Christians?” Well in my early 20s that is probably one of the things you would have heard me say. I had a dysfunctional relationship with the local church that stemmed from growing up as a PK (that’s church talk for Pastor’s Kid) and seeing tons of hypocrisy.
I took a very self-centered approach to church. I wanted the benefits but not the commitment. Maybe you can relate. Many of us are dating the church. We would rather keep our options open than have to make a serious and exclusive commitment to a local church. I get it. Commitment can be scary. We don’t want to get burned. We are unsure of what we might be signing up for. What if I find something better? What if I don’t like something the pastor says? What if I don’t get along with some of the people?
Commitment-phobia is a common sign of delayed adulthood and points to two problems:
- An over-developed sense of independence. We don’t think we need the church for spiritual survival.
- An under-developed theology of the local church. We think the church is about us.
Since this is a brief article and not a thesis, let me just make a few quick comments based on what Scripture has to say.
- Jesus died for the church (Ephesians 5:25), built the church as the unstoppable force (Matthew 16:17-19), commissioned the church with the treasure of the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20) and will one day return for the church (Romans 8:18-21).
- The Bible calls the church the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7), the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-23), the flock of God (1 Peter 5:2), the household of God (Ephesians 2:19), the temple of God (Ephesians 2:19-22).
- Scripture commands us to carry out the 59 “one-anothers” as the evidence of our commitment to Christ and the local church. Love one another (John 13:34), be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10), live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16), accept one another (Romans 15:7), carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), etc.
- Scripture says that we are to embrace the authority of the local church in our lives to help shepherd, care and mature us (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, Acts 20:28, Acts 14:23, Matthew 28:20).
- Scripture tells us that committing to the church can protect us from a hardened heart (Hebrews 3:12-13) and grow us to spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:1-16).
So based on all of this–how can we be casual in our commitment to the church? Here are a few ways to grow toward maturity through commitment to the local church.
- Join a small group at the church you attend. This is a great way to begin living out the one-anothers.
- Pursue membership. This is will be how you show that you are placing yourself under the spiritual oversight of the local church and getting invested.
- Start giving and serving. Don’t just take from the church, you need to give back! That’s how this works.
When I began to commit myself to the local church I began to see the most spiritual growth in my life. That’s not a coincidence; it’s God’s design! Stop dating the church. I hope you will deeply consider this.