How My Church Can Help Me
Jesus has opened up a new and living way for me that helps me for eternity. Yet, Jesus didn’t save me in isolation. Jesus built a support system to help me to follow Him. There are two times that the “since is used. The word “since describes that Jesus did a certain work in the past that allows me to live as a Christian today. First, the writer of Hebrews says that we can enter “the sanctuary” with boldness because of Jesus.
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus—” (Hebrews 10:19, CSB)
The work of Jesus gives the Christian the ability to have access to God.
“he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh)—and since we have a great high priest over the house of God,” (Hebrews 10:20–21, CSB)
Second, Jesus allowed me to have a new life because of His death on the cross. Yet, Jesus never wanted you and me to live the Christian life in isolation.
The church is intimately connected to Jesus Christ. The church is the bride of Christ. You can’t have Jesus without the church. You enter the presence of Jesus through the church. The church helps you stay connected to Jesus by being that spiritual support system you need.
In the 2013 movie Her, Theodore falls in love with Samantha, his name for the female voice behind a new operating system with artificial intelligence. Over time, he begins to lose the real relationships in his life as he falls for his virtual love interest. In the end, Samantha evolves to a higher level and another, less sophisticated operating system replaces her. In the end, Theodore snaps back into reality and encounters his loneliness again.
God made us to be in relationship with him and with others. That is why he made us in his image. Despite the difficulties and disappointments we may experience, we need to be in community with one another.1
A Christian needs to be with other people to have true community. Yet many people don’t understand why the church is necessary. They come to Jesus and don’t see any value in the church. Centuries of mistrust has developed in the lives of Christians. They say that they don’t want to be part of the local church. They use excuses that prevent them from being part of the local church.
It’s like not wanting to go to a game. Mike and Amy Nappa write in their book A Heart Like His:
I stopped going to ball games for the following reasons—which could apply just as easily to why I could stop going to church:
1. Whenever I go to a game, they ask for money.
2. The other fans don’t care about me.
3. The seats are too hard.
4. Coach never visits me.
5. The referee makes calls I disagree with.
6. Some of the games go into overtime and make me late for dinner.
7. The band plays songs I don’t know.
8. I have other things to do at game time.
9. My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
10. I know more than the coaches do anyway.
11. I can be just as good a fan at the lake.
12. I won’t take my kids to a game either. They must choose for themselves what teams to follow.2
You wouldn’t use these kind of excuses to prevent you from going to a game. You shouldn’t use these kind of excuses to prevent you from going to church. Perhaps the excuses come because a person doesn’t see the value of the local church. Let me share with you three different ways that the church can help me as a Christian.
Paul says that faith, hope, and love are the essence of the Christian faith. Paul uses that image three times to describe the relationship between the Christian and the church.
“Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, CSB)
“We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3, CSB)
“But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled and put on the armor of faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8, CSB)
If faith, hope, and love are the essence of being a Christian, then the church is the support system designed by God to help me live out my Christianity. How can the church help me as a Christian?
THREE WAYS MY CHURCH CAN HELP ME
The church helps me:
Hearten my faith
“let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22, CSB)
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:18, CSB)
One of the first purposes of the church according to Jesus is to establish the basis of my faith.
Peter says that we are like rocks that are used to build a home. The church interconnects our faith. The church is the best tool to give me assurance of my faith. How does the church, a group of believers, hearten or increase my faith?
The church reminds me that I am changed. The church reminds me that Jesus has changed me. The church reminds me that I am on God’s team now, not Satan’s team. Just as you might sit on the same side to root for a sports team, followers of Jesus Christ come together and join one another because we are all on the same team.
Hold on to hope
“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23, CSB)
That team spirit can increase we have hope. Our confident hope is that Jesus and His team will win in the end. We don’t have to waver because Jesus keeps His promises.
When you watch a basketball, it is exciting and thrilling. But you don’t know who is going to win. There are going to be twists and turns. It may be entertaining, but you really never have any hope that the team you are rooting for is going to win.
That’s not the same with the Harlem Globetrotters. They always win against the Washington Generals. You watch their game and you are confident that they are going to win. You may say: Why go to the game if you know that they are going to win? You go to the game and root for the Globetrotters because you want them to win. You know that they are going to win. But you want them to win. You have a confident hope.
It’s entertaining. You enjoy the time as you watch the Globetrotters. You root for them while you watch how they play. But you never lose hope in the Globetrotters’ ability to win. You look forward to it. You have confidence in their ability to win the game. You have hope that it will come to pass. That is the same with Jesus. That is the same with His people in the church.
Help me to love
THREE WAYS THE CHURCH CAN HELP ME LOVE OTHERS BETTER
“And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24, CSB)
The more I love God and others, the more I am inclined to do good works for others. The more I love others, the more I am willing to help others. The good works I do as a Christian are a result of my faith not a requirement of my faith.
I can love others because I have faith in the God who loves me. I can love others because I have hope in the God who loves me. That leads me to showing that love by doing good works. The church should be a place where we provoke others to love and good works.
I am a believer in Jesus Christ and therefore I belong with other believers. That leads me to the second way that a church can help love others better. The church provides an opportunity to worship.
“not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing…” (Hebrews 10:25, CSB)
We need to be helping people love God together through worship. Worship is not an activity for the individual alone. I can worship God by myself. I was just not designed to worship God by myself.
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.”” (Genesis 2:18, CSB)
God never designed me to hang out with other people. He also designed me to worship God with others.
“Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Psalm 95:6, CSB)
“Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15, CSB)
“…but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25, CSB)
We need to be more welcoming as a church. This welcoming or encouraging is in contrast to those who are in the habit of neglect to gather together. That means that those who don’t come to church usually are not wanting to come to church. Instead, they are choosing to avoid church.
These people – the ones who neglect the habit of coming – these are the people who are not welcoming other people. These people are not encouraging others.
If you are coming to church, then you should be characterized as a welcoming people. Those who don’t come won’t welcome people. But we should be welcoming people. We should be encouraging each other.
Why should we be a welcoming church? Why should we be encouraging each other? The reason is because the Day is coming.
“…and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25, CSB)
As we see the time coming closer that Jesus returns, we need to be coming together more often, and we should be welcoming people more eagerly. The return of Jesus Christ and the Judgement Day that follows His return is the reason.
Why is that so important?
Is it because we are going to be judged by our lack of encouragement or welcoming of others? No. We need to be encouraging and welcoming because so many lost people are going to die and go to Hell.
I have seen many people post memes and comments this week about the new law in New York about the extension of termination of life for unborn babies. The state’s previous law, which had been on the books for nearly 50 years, only permitted abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if a woman’s life was at risk. This new law including a provision permitting late-term abortions when a woman’s health is endangered.
I am in total agreement that we need to protect all life. However, I wish Christians who are so eager to post their desire to protect all babies would also be encouraging to those same mothers. I wish we as Christians would be just as eager to welcome the lost as we are in attacking them when it comes to abortion. I wish we as Christians would be just as eager to share about eternal life with these people who we are quick to condemn when they are willing to destroy life.
My point is that we are so easily willing to point the finger than we are to lend a hand that the world just thinks that we are not that welcoming. So why invest spending my time with people who are going to just upset me?
As is typical in the Bible, Hebrews 10:19–25 pairs the Christian’s responsibility to God with responsibility to others. Within this pairing lies a great truth, that we cannot sincerely seek God without serving others. That is why the Bible is full of “let us” passages. There are no Lone Rangers in the church. God’s commands are addressed to “us.”
Therefore, let us as a church commit ourselves to drawing near to God together, to holding on to our hope together, and to regularly spurring each other on to loving attitudes and good deeds. Knowing that God has already opened the way into his presence through the death of Jesus and that Jesus will someday return for his own, let us do all that we can to make sure that everyone here is ready to meet him on that grand and glorious day.3
1 Jim L. Wilson and Larry Blair, “Created for Community,” in 300 Illustrations for Preachers, ed. Elliot Ritzema (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015). Originally from: Bob Philpot, “Her (2013) Plot Summary,”
2 Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof, 1001 Illustrations That Connect (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 38–39. Originally from: Mike and Amy Nappa, A Heart Like His (Barbour, 1999).
3 James R. Girdwood, Book of Hebrews: Blueprints for 30 Messages Built upon God’s Word, ed. Bob Buller, Solid Foundation Sermon Starters (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1999), 46.