I've recently recommended a book called Love Your Church by Tony Merida (available from The Good Book Company). On that same sort of theme Wendy has written a really encouraging post for us to read and reflect on. Enjoy!
I should say right off the bat that I have struggled with being part of a local church for most of my adult life. A few things seemed to make it trickier: my husband is not a Christian, I homeschooled my children, I don’t watch universally popular programs or sports and the people I loved deeply seemed to up and leave to serve God on the other side of the planet. Mostly though I struggled with church because I was inward looking. I do not have a heart like Jesus, and it did not even occur to me that I should want one. That is going to be a long work in progress and the fact is I still struggle. Gathering on Zoom weekly has felt exposing, ‘booking tickets’ for church is weird, my home family don’t fit the church family model, I watch even less TV and sports than I did previously and, yup, people still up and leave to serve God on the other side of the planet. And yet every day I am filled with a deep unexplainable gratitude and love for my local church, Village Church, Emersons Green. Here are a few of the reasons why:
Every week I am reminded that Jesus is my Saviour. I stand alongside a myriad of people and with all our differences I see this one common unifier, ‘in Christ’ and in their faces I am reminded of my salvation too.
Similarly, I am reminded of where my home is – that my citizenship is in heaven. Before lockdown, Jonny referred to our little church making known ‘the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.’ That really struck me. I cannot find the sermon to reference it properly but simply put our tiny band of people make a statement in the heavens – I love being a part of that.
The Church reminds me of what is important and what really matters, each time I get frustrated or upset in some little way about something at church Jesus uses that to remind me of where my heart is (usually not a good place) and what is of true value. In that recognition He also gives me the Holy Spirit to help me make steps to change.
I know my church family love me and intercede on my behalf, this is especially evident when they stop in their tracks to pray for me about something immediately. I love that level of care and concern.
The Church and especially my homegroup is a body of people with whom we can genuinely share each other’s sorrows and double joys.
I love being taught by my leaders, I know it must take them an absolute age to work through and prepare a talk or study for us each week and I really value their insight. I love it when they make a comment on a book to read or a reason they’ve stopped watching a certain program or made a life change and I want to copy it. I love the gentle challenge of things I would not have thought myself and I love listening to them, like trying to pick up good food to take home with me.
Similarly, I love learning how to pray from my brothers and sisters. Recently one of my homegroup has been praying using the same refrain at the end of her prayers ‘we love you; we trust you; we worship you’. This has been a prayer game changer for me, as I ask myself these questions mid-prayer, both my own and other peoples – Do I love you Jesus? Do I trust you? Can I worship you in this situation? Will I worship you in this situation?
Under a banner of restrictions, I love noticing others bursting at the seams wanting to sing praise to God. (and yes I am particularly referring to Sarah).
I like the joy of being obedient. An odd thing I didn’t discover until recently, but I do think there is an obedience linked to being part of a local church and attending regularly and within that obedience comes a peace and a joy.
Finally, being at church is like light and life to me and in a world like ours that is a rare and a beautiful gift to be immersed in once, twice, or more a week.