You Need Your Local Church, and Here’s Why

Do you ever watch the nature channel?  Me neither.  But you probably know a little about lions.  Lions are typically nocturnal hunters.  They go around looking for prey around the twilight hours, from dusk till dawn.  Stealthily they seek their prey, ever so quiet, waiting until the gazelle or antelope or whatever they’re having for dinner is least expecting them.  Often they look for the weakest of the pack/herd, perhaps one that is injured, younger, or sick.  Without warning, that lion (or lions) attack, separating the animal from the pack/herd.  Before the poor animal knows it, he’s dinner.

Peter wrote, “Be sober–minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV).  He was not writing this letter to an individual, but to multiple churches–local churches with multiple people within.  When he stated that the devil is looking for someone to devour, he was not being hypothetical, he was being specific.  This was warning to the church, not simply individuals, to be on the lookout for Satan. “He is prowling around like a lion,” Peter was writing.  “He’s staying hidden.  He’s stealthy.  He’s just waiting to pounce on someone in your congregation.”

As Christians, God has put us together with a group of people.  A flock, a herd, a pack.  On our own, we are dead-meat.  We might as well be out there in the middle of a field just waiting to be attacked.  We might as well just call out, “Here kitty, kitty.  Come get me.”

Most Christians know that isn’t the way to live.  We know that we’re supposed to be part of the pack.  Some of us get jaded and leave the pack.  Some of us are jaded, but begrudgingly stick with it.  Yet, even knowing what we are supposed to do, we often are not “part of the pack.”  We’re present; we’re accounted for, but we aren’t actually there.  We’re doing our own thing.  We’re minding our own business. We’re not looking out for others, and others are not looking out for us.  In fact, we aren’t even looking out for ourselves!  It’s no wonder so many have been pounced on by that roaring lion–the old devil.

Look what Peter wrote though: “Resist him, firm in your faith,” (1 Peter 5:9a, ESV). He is writing that to every person in the church.  Going back to English class, you may remember the idea of the understood you, except this one is the understood plural you.  (You all) resist him, firm in y’alls faith.”  We come together to resist Satan.  If the devil can, he’ll separate us from each other.  He will get the weak one alone and destroy him/her.  As a church, we are not to scatter, but gather.  We come together to protect the weak.  In fact, Paul wrote just that.  “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all,” (1 Thess. 5:14, ESV).  We don’t run away when the devil strikes.  We are not to abandon our fellow Christian.  We are to rally around them (and they are to allow us to do so).  One believer by himself/herself is no match for a lion, but a pack that comes together, can resist, and beat back the deadly foe.

“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world,” (1 Peter 5:9, ESV).  Even as local assemblies we can take heart that local bodies of believers all over this planet are dealing and fighting with the same issues with which our congregations–our packs–are dealing.

If you are not in a local church, you need to be in one.  They are your lifeline.  They are your protection.  They are your fighters.  We stand firm together.  Grant it, church’s have gotten away from this idea of relying on each other, trusting each other, allowing each other to help in our fights, but it ought not be so.  As Gandhi would say if he were a Christian (and alive), “Be the change you want to see in the church.”  Start to watch out for the hurting, the weak, the doubting, the fainthearted.  Lift them up in prayer.  Pray with them.  Call them.  Check in on them.  Disciple them.  Help them fight when the lion pounces.

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