Belonging in the Church Community
Chee Kim was an orphan. Although he was only six years old, he lived in the streets of Hong Kong. He didn’t belong to anyone.
One day a kind man met Chee Kim and took him to a home where many other boys and girls lived. Here he was given good care, and he was taught about Jesus. Soon he learned to read and to write his own name.
After a few months Chee Kim was taken to the home of a lovely Chinese family. He was adopted and treated like a true son. He now was very happy because he belonged to a family.
One of our basic needs is to belong. Belonging to a family gives a sense of comfort and security. When you became a Christian, you became a part of God’s family. In this lesson you will study what it means to belong to the family of God, the community of believers who make up His Church.
In an earlier lesson we said that the church is not a building, it is a body of believers united to do the work of the Lord. When we become Christians we become part of the body of Christ. We are part of His worldwide Church. This body of people unites together to do the work of the Lord and to worship Him together. They form church groups in their community. In the book of Acts we read about the early church, and about how the Christians went from one community to another, helping to form new church groups. These early believers had a great desire to meet together to worship their Lord.
Worshiping God means giving your devotion to Him. You give Him honor and praise. You adore Him more than any other. Sometimes we worship Him alone. But sometimes it is easier to worship God with other people.
God made people so that they like to be with other people. It is natural for believers to want to join together in worship. We receive encouragement when we worship with others, and we give encouragement, also.
There are many ways to express worship to God. In the Psalms we are instructed to worship Him in different ways, by clapping our hands, by singing unto Him, by praising Him with our voices, by praying, by using musical instruments, and in other ways. When we join with other believers in worshiping in these ways, we find it easier to express our love and adoration to God.
A man was absent from church several times. The pastor visited him to tell him he had been missed. As an example to show the man how much he needed to worship with other believers, the pastor went to the fire and took out a hot coal. It glowed red hot for a while, but then went out. The man received the lesson. When we “stay in the fire” we are more likely to “glow for the Lord.” Worshiping with other believers gives us greater strength to serve God.
Another way to express worship to God is through service to others. True worship, an expression of love and adoration to God, naturally results in expressing love and kindness to other people. This is expressed in Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:3, which we have seen in another lesson. When we serve others, we are doing it as unto the Lord.
In our first lesson we saw that one of the meanings of community is “fellowship.” We need fellowship with other people. The highest form of fellowship can be found among Christians.
The local church is a good place to find fellowship with other believers. Young people enjoy being with each other and sharing in times of recreation and work. Adults, too, need to get to know one another and share in activities together.
Through fellowship activities in the church, the whole community can be reached. Special activities for the children can be a means of bringing in other children. Getting together for a picnic, or to work on a project together, or just for a time of talking and sharing are all ways of getting to know people better. And as we get to know each other, we are better able to minister to one another when there is a need.
There are many accounts in the Gospels of Jesus eating with people. He used these informal times of fellowship to share deep truths about the kingdom of God, or to minister to individual needs. We all need times to relax, to enjoy one another, and to get better acquainted. Often, community members not part of the local church are brought into fellowship with the Lord and the church in this way. Sharing, caring, and loving are shown to be community actions.
One of the greatest advantages of regular church attendance is the privilege of studying with other Christians. In most churches Sunday school classes or Bible training sessions are held. Regular study of the Bible gives a person a good background and understanding of the Word. Pastors prepare sermons to help us grow and become mature. As we are ministered to in these ways, we in turn become able to minister to others.
Chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Titus have a lot to say about Christian conduct and responsibility. In these verses the apostle Paul speaks of the things that agree with sound doctrine or teaching. Helping widows, instructing youth, and teaching workers to be submissive are all mentioned here. All of these things are part of the ministry of a church.
People joined together can do things they could never do alone. When my wife was a small girl living on a farm in Canada, the farmers would help each other harvest the crops because they had no machines to do this work. People would leave their own work to help another farmer pick his corn or harvest his wheat. As everyone worked together, all of the crops were harvested. They could not have done the work alone.
The same principle works in the church. For example, the Bible needed to be translated into the language of the people of Burma. The project was too large for one person or even for one church. So a large number of people from many churches put their money together and paid to have the Bible translated.
As you become mature in the Lord, you have a greater desire to minister to others. Your world gets bigger. You become sensitive to the needs of others.
When some people hear of others going hungry it doesn’t bother them. They just think people should work harder so they will have money to buy food. But when Christians hear of people suffering from lack of food, they feel pain for them. Jesus said, “Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given” (Luke 12:48). In other words, if God has given you many things, it is His blessing to you. However, you will be held responsible for how you use the things He has given you, and how you respond to the needs of others.
When you hear of people on the other side of the world suffering from lack of food, or from a terrible storm or earthquake, does it trouble you? A sign of your maturity is how these things affect you. Ask yourself these questions: Do I really care about my neighbor? Is it really important to me if thousands of people die in some faraway place? Am I really concerned about being involved in a worldwide ministry? Am I helping in my church to minister to those in need?