Show me a follower of Christ who has stalled and I’ll show you a follower who’s not connected to a fellowship of other followers. Tell me about someone who was tracking well with the Lord and then just kind of went into a slow drift, and I’d be interested to know if that coincided with when they were too busy, or too disinterested, or too put-off, to keep gathering with the Lord’s people in a meaningful and regular manner. I know God is not to be put in a box . . . and that with God all things are possible–even a believer growing apart from fellowship with other believers . . . but I also know that God has prescribed a normative way for His children to grow and mature in the faith. And that’s through God’s body building program.
And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
(Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV emphasis added)
The church wasn’t our idea. Calling it the body of Christ wasn’t some quaint term we came up with. The Son of God said He would build His church. And the Spirit of God has said that it is His body. A body for which He provides gifted men and women to equip the saints for building up of the body of Christ. He intent is that we grow up . . . becoming more and more like Jesus . . . becoming conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29). And the dynamic He has set in motion is that of the body of Christ, individual members joined together, gifted, and equipped, when it’s working as it should, builds itself up. The body works to together to grow and mature. Such is God’s body building program.
Divine perpetual motion. That’s what it is. Started with a few at Pentecost. Equipping itself . . . building itself up . . . each part engaged and contributing according to their gifting . . . and the body grows and builds itself up in love. First in Jerusalem . . . then Judea . . . then Samaria . . . and to the ends of the earth. Starting 2,000 years ago and continuing century after century. Set in motion by the Spirit of God . . . sustained in perpetual growth by the Spirit of God. It’s God’s normative way. What arrogance to think that we can accomplish God’s desired outcome for us to mature in Christ without engaging in His prescribed means for our development and growth.
If I was the sworn eternal enemy of God . . . opposed to all that which brings Him glory . . . if I couldn’t prevent people from believing in His Son . . . I would sure try and keep those people from growing up and being glory givers. I’d create a culture that seduced people into calendars too full to regularly meet with the body on Sundays. I’d work discord so that bad experiences would keep people from seeking out the dynamic God has ordained for His people’s spiritual growth. I’d sow seeds of complacency or resentment or discontentment within the church. I’d seek to misdirect popular opinion to conclude that doing community with God’s people is passé or irrelevant. And I’d do whatever else I could do to keep members of the body from connecting with the body so that they wouldn’t grow up through God’s body building program.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 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 13:23-25 ESV)
Oh that there would be revival among God’s people for God’s people. That, with a fresh sense of urgency and purpose, they might see the necessity of being all in with God’s prescribed way of growing their faith.
That we might no longer be children tossed to and fro . . . that we might mature to the measure given us of the fullness of Christ . . . that we might do so by His overflowing grace . . . that we might do so to His everlasting glory?
And God’s people said . . . ?