We moved five years ago today.
After many weeks of packing and preparing, the day of our move finally came. Friends and vehicles assembled, and the sweat began to roll. Trip after trip, clearing out the old house and filling up the new one. Eventually, the excitement of the move dwindled. Generous people had other things to get to, but I still had to finish my move. I packed up one van load alone while waiting for some more friends to arrive to help me finish some of the larger items.
Now, everything is moved, but we are not settled in. Fixing the broken window that a bed post went through. Sewing up the hole that was mysteriously made in the couch. Then the cleaning. Then the unpacking. Followed by the arranging and rearranging. We will notice something that we forgot to take care of and fix it. Changing the place where one lives is never simple. There is a lot to do after the decision to move has been made.
The same is true for a person who has decided to follow Jesus. That initial decision is life-changing and refreshing. But eventually you will find yourself alone. Alone with your thoughts. Alone with who you are. Alone with the struggles and pitfalls that once ensnared you. What will you do when all of the weight of the world seems to come crashing down on you? Will you continue to move on toward Jesus? Or will you go back to the place where you once were?
This is where Church comes in. Moving would be nigh impossible without the help of friends. Living for Jesus is made much easier with the help of friends who are also trying together to live for Jesus. Too often we disregard church because we don’t like something that they do during the one hour that they meet on Sunday mornings. Maybe they didn't do what you wanted or someone carelessly dismissed your feelings. Maybe people have a different view than you. Abandoning church because it it is messy at times is a ridiculous and costly mistake. Church is so much more than just an hour on Sunday morning. It’s about a life lived in community with others throughout the week.
Being part of a healthy church is not easy, but it is worth all the sweat. It takes time and effort on everyone’s part. It doesn’t just happen overnight. Like a move, it takes preparation. It takes many meals together. It takes talking with one another and dreaming together. It takes meeting people’s needs together. It even takes the unpopular idea of correcting one another.
The writer of Hebrews wrote: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” [Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)].
Too often, we pretend that church is just singing and studying together, but God intended it to be so much more. Church is to be that place where we are encouraged and challenged. I can listen to a sermon online from one of the nation’s best preachers without interacting with other people. You can sing along with the praise music or hymns of your choice in the comfort of your shower without having to bother with those music styles you dislike. But you can’t encourage one another without getting together. You also can’t encourage one another by just going to a “sacred” building for an hour on Sunday morning where you clock in and clock out to get to eat as soon as possible.
Church can be so much more than we are currently experience. Are you ready to move? I am.