Pastoral styles and personalities will come and go, but the body of believers that we love and with whom we worship God, serve, grow in the Lord and fellowship with year after year is our church family.
These are the people who minister to us when we are sick and lonely and tired and hopeless and broken and afraid. They help us pick up the pieces of our shattered dreams and envision a brighter tomorrow. They are there for us when we weep because of what we have sown. They walk with us through the desolate valley of the shadow of death, and lift us up into the arms of the Great Comforter.
These faithful friends also teach and correct and train us according to the Word of God. We share the Lord’s Supper and many other meals together. They encourage us to take our eyes off our circumstances and fix them on Jesus. They offer us grace and mercy and truth and accountability. They embolden us to share the Lord with the least, left, lonely and lost. Our church family cheers us on and laughs, rejoices, and celebrates the wins of life with us. And we, in turn, do this for them.
If we are not careful, we can allow a spirit of discontent with our church family to grow within us, one that is not constructive, exhorting our members to follow more closely in the dust of our Rabbi, but destructive. It begins with comparison. We hear an eloquent pastor speak when visiting another church, whose tone and demeanor and attitude is more pleasing to our senses than the one at our church. We attend a worship service elsewhere and like the type of music or ability of that worship team better than our own. We notice that the people at that other church are friendlier than where we attend church. And the list of defects associated with our body goes on.
There are legitimate reasons to leave a church, such as when false doctrine has infiltrated its teaching or preaching and the leadership is unwilling to correct it. But simply because we do not prefer the current preacher in the pulpit is not a Biblical basis for divorcing our church family. Rest assured, if we leave the precious fellowship of souls to whom we have made a commitment to love and support and to serve our King with, just because we do not like somebody, then we are destined to abandon our next church family at some point, too. Just as with a marriage, leaving our church family has more to say about our character than that of the one who we blame for causing us to leave.
Lord, thank you for placing me in my beloved family of imperfect believers. Help me to remember that you can speak to me through anyone, not just through those people whose personalities I prefer and who think like me. Help me not to shut out people that you may want to use to speak to me, and to understand that you do not speak through their imperfect flesh, but through your Holy Spirit. Lord, please give me the courage, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to stay faithful to my church family as together we seek to follow you.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25