Let us consider the joyful privileges and serious responsibilities of covenant church membership that necessitates us sharing life together, submitting to one another, obeying leaders, worshipping corporately, stimulating one another to good works, and growing in the grace of God through the ordinary means of grace. Church membership is not an option to be considered. It’s a priority that is commanded for the life of the Christian.
Do you place a priority upon the gathering, worship, and fellowship of the local church? If not, it could be an indicator that something is not right spiritually. A lack of commitment to your local church could be indicative of pride, laziness, slothfulness, and a refusal to submit to proper biblical discipleship and accountability. Since Jesus laid down his life for the church, we know what God thinks about the church. Therefore, we should put priority upon the regular gathering and relational community of the local church.
Identifying the Problems
During the rise of the COVID-19 controversy, the regular gathering was compromised due to overreach from the government and fear of church members. To put it bluntly, many Christians have caved to the fear of disease, sickness, and death which has caused them to sacrifice their commitment to the local church in pursuit of safety. In essence, their pursuit of safety has actually led them into great danger spiritually. An obsession with wellness will result in spiritual decline if a person is led to believe that physical wellness necessitates the willful neglect of the local church. This is a serious problem that must be addressed.
In some cases, it’s not the fear of sickness that prevents the proper commitment to the local church, it’s actually pride. Some professing Christians believe they are strong enough, spiritual enough, or live as a special case where the local church is not necessary. They go about life by prioritizing business, family, vacations, recreation, politics, and other life commitments with little focus upon the local church. This is a tragic mistake that will have lasting consequences.
In both cases of fear and pride, the professing Christian develops an elevated opinion of his or her spiritual condition that results in the neglect of the local church and the ordinary means of grace. This will result in a spiritual decline that will not end well.
Rather than honoring God, the person gripped by fear of sickness neglects the clear commands to gather with the local church thereby elevating their commitment to pursuing good physical health above the pursuit of spiritual health. The person deceived by pride lacks self-awareness on a spiritual level resulting in a greater commitment to other areas of life while neglecting the corporate assembly of the local church and the worship of the saints.
Why Should We Prioritize the Local Church?
We are called to prioritize the local church. There is no biblical category for a faithful Christian who neglects or remains disconnected from the local church. In fact, the Scriptures point to the reality that such persons have swerved from the faith and are not to be received as Christians. Consider the words of John the Apostle in 1 John.