Summary: Some of the benefits of being active in a local church (Material adapted from LeRoy Lawson's booklet, The Family of God, Chapter 1, When You Become a Christian, pgs. 9-14)
There are four main bones in every organization including the church. The wish-bones: Wishing somebody would do something about the problem. The jaw-bones: Doing all the talking but very little else. The knuckle-bones: Those who knock everything. The back-bones: Those who carry the brunt of the load and do most of the work.
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 3:10, NIV.
“Through the church!” The church is the means through which God has chosen to do His work on earth. The church is Christ’s body on earth now to complete the work He began in His physical body. The church is God’s messenger on earth to spread the gospel of Christ.
Even so, in these times we come across much “anti-church” thinking. Many people who claim to be Christians want little or nothing to do with the church. Just finished a series on “A Christian Is...”, if we are Christians we will be concerned about Christ’s bride, the church. The church is important and we need to be active participants in it. Encouraging those of us who have not to made this local church the place where we will serve and worship to do so today. In the days of the early church they were baptized and “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47, NIV. When became a Christian automatically part of a local body. No such thing as just Jesus and me Christianity that excluded the church.
To whet our appetites let’s talk about the positive aspects of the church and there are many
Thesis: Some of the benefits of being active in a local church
We’ll live longer
One study showed that attending church increased the lifespan for whites by an average of 7 years and potentially 14 years for African Americans. The more people go to church, the less likely they are to die sooner than those who don't go to church.
We’ll live better
The Christian lifestyle encourages healthy habits and attitudes. We strive to be good stewards of our bodies. We forgive and release that bitterness that ruins our souls but also our health.
More than physical health, we have better financial health. We become better managers of the possessions God has given us. Another reason is that our priorities will change. We will spend less for entertainment, for example, because we won’t feel the need to pursue what the world calls a “good time.” We will probably give up some costly habits that drain money away and give little in return. If we tithe, we will find what other tithers have found: our 9/10th will now go farther with God’s blessing that our 10/10ths used to go when we were keeping the entire amount for ourselves. One study found that church membership decreased stress. Stress in several ways but the biggest stress I have is financial and what would it be without the Lord.
We’ll laugh more
One of my favorite songs is, “I am happy in the service of the King.” A major note of the NT is joy: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11, NIV. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4, NIV.
We’ll love more
Our society talks a lot about love, agreeing that “what the world needs now is love, sweet love.” Many agree that love is the answer to many of the world’s problems. However, humans by nature are incapable of loving consistently.
In the gospel we find the only love that solves mankind’s biggest problem. John 3:16. Love is an act- it is wanting and doing the best for the ones that we love.
We’ll spend the rest of our lives studying and trying to apply the full meaning of love, God’s love for us and our love for Him and for one another. In a world that mostly just talks about love, we’ll put that talk into action. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7, NIV.
We’ll learn daily
“I know so little about the Bible.” Don’t feel alone. All of us feel that we have only begun to grasp the depths of biblical knowledge.
Take advantage of every opportunity to study the Bible. Don’t give up if it seems too hard. Some parts are hard and difficult. Taught one of my sons to ride a bicycle lately. Too hard but keep at it and becomes easier. “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”” Matthew 4:4, NIV. Like a baby going from milk to solid food.