Over the course of the last year, I have seen more and more people I care deeply for become less and less captivated by the Church and gradually slip away from any level of commitment to a local body of believers. There can be many reasons for this, but that is relatively irrelevant. No matter what the reason is, the removal of oneself from the local body of Christ puts you at great danger and is incredibly contrary to Christ’s plan for your life.
It may sound harsh to say it doesn’t really matter what the reasons are for ceasing to commit to a local Church, but no matter what the reasons are to ‘de-fellowship’ oneself, they all fail to outweigh the reason we ought to commit to one. I will explain with an illustration I recently heard in a sermon preached by Art Azurdia this past summer entitled “The Personal Possession of Jesus Christ”.
Pastor Azurdia begins his message by offering to sell someone a sports jersey. If I told you that I had a jersey with a number on it, you might pay a few bucks for it. If I told you that it was a Tom Brady jersey, you might pay more. What if I told you that it was a game worn jersey? The price went into the hundreds! Now, if I told you that it was THE jersey worn by Brady in the Super Bowl, yes, the one that was stolen (don’t ask me how I got it!), the asking price would skyrocket! When the jersey was stolen from his locker in the postgame celebration, it was said that it could go for as much as $500,000 on the open market.
Why the steep increase in value? Because the inherent value of something is in direct correlation with to the one owns it. If it was a cheap imitation jersey from Wal-Mart, then it’s not impressive. But if it actually came from GOAT (greatest of all time), then we have a great value!
The same would be true, says Azurdia, if I tried to sell you some ruby shoes and then mention they belonged to Judy Garland in her performance in the Wizard of Oz.
So what does this all mean about the Church? The Church belongs to Jesus Christ. He is building His Church (Matthew 16:18). The Church should mean everything to us because it meant everything to Christ. He laid down His life for her! She is His bride! She is priceless and worth our deepest and strongest efforts. Not because the individual people in the Church are worthy of our praise or esteem, but because it is the personal possession of Jesus Christ and it cost Christ His blood to establish it.
There are many reasons to commit yourself to a local body of believers, but the greatest is because Christ showed us how much He values it with His death on the cross. The Church is Christ’s, therefore it is precious and worth our self-sacrifice, our service, and our commitment.