It is not an uncommon for us to realize we need to get in shape physically. When we do, we go out and join a local gym. However, often our good intentions are met with the reality of a busy life. At best, we might go to the gym one hour per week, and we quickly realize that one hour per week does very little to get us in shape. Sadly, this is how many Christians treat their spiritual life as well. We attend church one hour a week, usually on Sunday morning, and hope to excel spiritually, which is not a biblical paradigm.
Believers are called to unite themselves with a body of believers for accountability; accountability cannot be achieved through one hour on Sunday morning. Christians are called to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together in order that we may be stimulated to spiritual growth. The Bible calls believers to unite themselves to a local church for this very purpose. Believers are to love one another, encourage one another, and guard one another. My point - the Bible’s point - is how can we expect to truly be accountable if we are with the church once a week for just an hour? Let’s take a detailed look at what it means to be a member of the church.
In the body of Christ, we are called to love one another. This love is a love that has been manifested to us in the gospel, thus we are to live our lives with this same love (Jn. 3:16). The first priority of our lives is to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Peter, in 1 Pet. 2:17, states, “… love the brotherhood…” Galatians 6:10 tells us, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Being a member of Christ’s body carries with it an obligation to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. This love is not only an emotional love; it is a love in truth and in action. How can this be done once a week? It takes an active involvement in the body of Christ.
The Bible calls believers to encourage one another. Encouragement is what we all need to stand firm, to press forward in our faithfulness to Christ. There are two verses that come to mind. 1 Thess. 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” Hebrews 10:24-25, “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.” How can we encourage one another to be faithful parents, husbands, and wives if we are not together regularly, living intentionally? We, as the church, must not forsake being together. This is the core of what it means to belong to a church, that we love and encourage one another.
If we are not around our church family and living in fellowship with them, how can we expect to be guarded against personal sin? I cannot, nor can you, see the sin in my life by talking with me for one hour on Sunday morning. These commands given to believers anticipate that we will be living together as a church family. Not living under the same roof, but living in close connection to one another, one life touching another. Hebrews 12:15-16, it states, “See to it that on one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” spring up and cause trouble, and by it many become defiled;” how can this happen, that guarding of each others lives, unless we are living in regular fellowship together.”
The Bible emphasizes that our spiritual health, and the health of our brothers and sisters, is centered on how much we are involved in the local church. May we not be under the illusion that one-hour a week is sufficient in following the Biblical commands of loving one another, encouraging one another, and guarding one another.