It is popular these days to praise Christ and disdain his church, to acknowledge the necessity of relationship with Jesus but deny the need for relationship with his people.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The church is the universal gathering of all who call Jesus Lord and trust on him to save them (1Cor 1:2). The church is Christ’s body (1Cor 12:12-13), his bride (Eph 5:22-32), his temple (1Cor 3:16). Jesus “loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25); he “bought” the church at the price of “his own blood” (Acts 20:28). It is in the context of the church that Christians are sanctified and made holy (Eph 5:25-27), that we are matured and grown into the fullness of Christ (Eph 4: 11-16).

A disciple disconnected from the church is like a hand cut off from the body: separated from Christ, the Head; isolated from the whole to which he/she properly belongs; severed from the life-giving flow of blood and oxygen and nutrients. A disciple without the church is a stunted, lonely, weak thing. A disciple without the church lacks the companionship and support, the leadership and accountability that encourages the “image of Christ” in us.

By growing our roots deep into the Church, we connect to a major source of spiritual nutrition. Some of the most fundamental values for living the Christian life are learned best in the context of other Christians: love, humility, forgiveness, submission, boldness, selfless service. The blessing of church unity and the power of many parts acting as one body must be experienced to be truly appreciated. Cooperating in the use of our spiritual gifts, skill sets, and various strengths helps us understand our place in God’s plan and God’s call on our lives. Interaction with older, wiser, more experienced mentors in the church is a prime way for God to equip and mature us for his purposes. If you want to grow up into a Christ-like disciple, you will make intimate involvement with the church a priority.

To that end, the North Central Church will value what God is doing through his people, teaching and talking about it often. We will make the “one another” passages a priority in our teaching and in our life together. We will prize and protect the peace, harmony, and unity of our congregation. We will use the resources of the church (the people and programs of our congregation) to encourage all of us to grow up in Christ.

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© 2012 by Tim Woodroof. Reproduction of this material requires permission from the author.