“And lest 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
Here’s the thing: you need the church. I know, I know, you don’t think that it’s very fun, and there is always someone awkward that tries to talk to you. They never quite get the music right, and often the sermon is too long or just doesn’t click with you. But, you know, it’s not all about you and it’s certainly not about your preferences. You cannot follow Jesus on your own; you need the rest of the body of Christ.
Kevin DeYoung, a pastor, wrote a short article called The Glory of Plodding where he takes this topic head-on. I’ll quote from it at length: “My generation in particular is prone to radicalism without follow through. We have dreams of changing the world, and the world should take notice accordingly. But we’ve not proved faithful in much of anything yet. We haven’t held a steady job or raised godly kids or done our time in VBS or, in some cases, even moved off the parental dole.
“We want global change and expect a few more dollars to the ONE campaign or Habitat for Humanity chapter to just about wrap things up. What the church and the world needs, we imagine, is for us to be another Bono — Christian, but more spiritual than religious and more into social justice than the church. As great as it is that Bono is using his fame for some noble purpose, I just don’t believe that the happy future of the church, or the world for that matter, rests on our ability to raise up a million more Bono’s.”
He goes on, “We haven’t learned how to be part of the crowd. We haven’t learned to be ordinary. Our jobs are often mundane. Our devotional times often seem like a waste. Church services are often forgettable. That’s life. We drive to the same places, go through the same routines with the kids, buy the same groceries at the store, and share a bed with the same person every night.
Church is often the same too — same doctrines, same basic order of worship, same preacher, same people. But in all the smallness and sameness, God works — like the smallest seed in the garden growing to unbelievable heights, like beloved Tychicus, that faithful minister, delivering the mail and apostolic greetings (Eph. 6:21).
Life is usually pretty ordinary, just like following Jesus most days. Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction…If we truly love the church, we will bear with her in her failings, endure her struggles, believe her to be the beloved bride of Christ, and hope for her final glorification.
The church is the hope of the world — not because she gets it all right, but because she is a body with Christ for her Head. Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me. Put away the Che Guevara t-shirts, stop the revolution, and join the rest of the plodders. Fifty years from now you’ll be glad you did.”
As you learn to speak truth into your own life, you have to be aware that you need others to speak truth to you as well. You need a body of believers who know you, understand your shortcomings, and are willing to challenge you. You need the gospel proclaimed from the pulpit week after week. You need, possibly even today, to speak into the life of another believer…to speak truth to them.