Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

Starring….you, if you don’t go to church!

If you are anything like me, there are times when you simply do no feel like being bothered.

I would argue that this is probably a common human experience, and that all of us at some point want time to ourselves. This desire, I think, can even be amplified. If you are an only child (like myself), and you have discovered satisfaction in being alone, interacting with others may not be at much of a premium.

Yes, alone time is nice, and sometimes necessary, but you can be too alone. Something we all have to avoid is becoming isolated or estranged. Cutting yourself off from those who care about you can do harm to your relationships, while also dealing damage to yourself (emotionally, spiritually). Moreover, people who have a hermit-type lifestyle are just weird.

It always amazes me, though, how as Christians we feel like we do not have to attend church. The genre of “rouge-Christian” is becoming increasingly popular among those who profess Christianity.

Why, however, would anyone who has had a genuine encounter with Christ not want to actively seek growth by being enjoined with other believers?

Reason number one could be that the person in question has simply not had a genuine conversion experience. Jesus, to them, is more like a good idea than a Savior.

Then again, there are those who have been baptized into Christ’s spiritual body who have their own agenda, i.e. the Corinthian Church.

The church at Corinth was a body of authentic believers—so much so that they exercised tremendous spiritual gifts—yet they were very self-centered.

When writing to the church, Paul addresses their horrendous treatment of the Lord’s Supper:

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? (1 Corinthians 11:17-22a)

By their selfishness, the congregants at Corinth had run amuck the whole church system. Instead of unity, there was divisiveness. Courtesy was supplanted by gluttony. The table of the Lord was no longer about remembering Christ’s body that was given and blood that was shed for the Church, but about getting their fill.

To be sure, the conduct of the Corinthian congregation is contrary to God’s will on a most basic level. God commands us to love one another (John 13:34), which Paul explains in chapter 13.

In the same way, God’s will is not for Christians be isolated or “rouge,” but rather that we would commit ourselves to fellowship. Hebrews 10:24-25 reads, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

To be saved is not just being joined to Christ, but also other believers in his spiritual body. Jesus wants those who follow him to do so corporately, by loving and encouraging one another.

To forsake the assembly of the saints due to some vain lack of desire to participate is to walk contrary to God’s will. No matter how spiritual one claims to be, how many times a day he prays or how many Christian books are on the shelf, one would participate in the rebellion of the Corinthians by not adhering to this directive.

To this effect, Proverbs 18:1 declares, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (ESV).

People who chose to isolate themselves are selfish. They only consider their own well-being and desires, and rejoice over the lack of accountability for someone else; “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). There is no inclination to serve others, but only an empty sense of narcissism.

On the contrary, by seeking selfish ends one rejects sound judgment. It is never a good idea to try and do life on your own. There is no one to offer words of wisdom or to help when the going gets rough.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reads, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”

What God has given us in the body of Christ is a wonderful thing. We do not have to be alone; on the contrary, a common faith and mission unite us.

Ephesians 4:3-4, 16 exhorts, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called . . . From [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

The fact remains, though, is that we have to embrace our role in Christ’s body, that it may “grow”—in number, though evangelism—and “build itself up”—strengthening believers through discipleship.

Refusing to do so does not make one any less part of the body. First Corinthians 12:15 reads, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.” Conversely, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (v. 26).

A non-functioning body part affects the health of the entire body. Our labor of love is the only way that we will continue to build and grow, and Jesus makes it known that the outward evidence of discipleship is just that.

He says in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Adhering to Christ’s command is not a bad thing, as it brings us joy (John 15:10-11). Though people or circumstances may sometimes make you want to be withdrawn, the end of the matter is this:

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like the precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling down on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalm 133)

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~ by christianballenger on September 18, 2012.

One Response to “Lone Ranger”

  1. Wow

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