Have you ever battled for control over your own life, and you had little or no say in events happening around you? Many of us fight that battle every day. Our opponent is not someone in our family or someone at work or even someone who is angry. As a cartoon character once put it: “We have met the enemy and he or she is us.”
I can sympathize with Paul when he says: “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:15-16) Paul is sharing something personal. He wants to do right but doesn’t as if he has a split personality. Knowing you have a problem helps but we still need answers.
The early church understood the problem and responded: All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper,) and to prayer. – Acts 2:42
- Teaching – Connecting with God through worship & studying scripture.
- Fellowship – Mutual support in the midst of joy or sorrow.
- Sharing – Sharing food, resources, and time to anyone in need.
- Prayer – Deepening our personal relationship through the Holy Spirit.
This is an important foundation for any church. Even the best athlete can only go so far on his or her own physical and mental ability. Sooner or later, every athlete needs the aid of a knowledgeable and talented coach. Like athletes we cannot live the Christian life alone. We need Christ and the church in the same way an athlete needs a coach.
So how do we do that? Belonging to a local church is similar to stepping up to the batter’s box in baseball. This is where the journey begins. You decide to attend one church or another. You’re not on base yet. You sense a need for what a church offers. We are always facing obstacles. In baseball the obstacle is a pitcher doing his/her best to strike you out or force you to hit a ball that will be fielded, and you are thrown out before you can reach first base.
In life we also face job difficulties, family squabbles, financial issues, health concerns and/or emotional trauma. So, you seek out a church for help. Hopefully, you find a loving caring church which gets you to first base. Then the real work begins: teaching, fellowship, sharing & prayer.
- First base is your opportunity to sample all of it and become a part.
- Second base is about expanding teaching in worship and in small groups.
- Third base is about more involvement in ministry and mission.
As you round third base and head for home, you realize you are now being coached by a loving God and a caring church. Coming home is your opportunity to share with others what you’ve been given. For some of you, it may be leadership in one group or another. For all of us, it’s about simply looking for opportunities to share our story and God’s amazing love and grace with others.
Years ago, I asked a group of men in our church to attend a meeting where we learned the value of supporting each other. The leader challenged us to name five close friends other than our spouse with whom we shared our deepest struggles and joys. Most of us couldn’t name five or even four or even one. Sigh!
That night we formed a men’s group and vowed to meet early every Sunday morning. We had breakfast, shared Scripture, and had devotions. We laughed some, cried occasionally and told stories. But we learned to depend upon Christ and each other. We became close friends.
Today, I belong to another men’s group. We meet every Tuesday morning, share stories, discuss Scripture, and current events. We depend upon Christ and each other. I come to this group regularly, not because it’s my job but because it’s my group and they are my close friends.
Why do we need church? Because we are a group of people who need Jesus and need each other. I want to round the bases of a developing a closer relationship with God and serving my community and world. Praise God for my close friends and for my church. I truly have a lot to be thankful for.