Written by Rev. Nicholas Davelaar
Published in the Courier of Russellville, Arkansas
A preacher, a native of New Jersey, once told the story of his first visit to the South.
At a restaurant on his first morning, he studied the breakfast menu. Several combination meals featured grits, so when the waitress came for his order, he asked her, “Miss, what is a grit?”
Without hesitation, the waitress sweetly set him straight: “Honey, they don’t come by themselves!”
The same thing could be said about Christians.
Many people these days have a “Me and Jesus” mindset. There’s a country song that expresses this mindset well: “Me and Jesus we got our own things going / Me and Jesus, we got it all worked out / Me and Jesus, we got our own things going / We don’t need anybody to tell us what it’s all about.”
However catchy that song might be, it flatly contradicts what we hear in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 12, for instance, the apostle Paul is very clear that Christians need each other. Being united with Christ, they constitute a body with many parts, each of which is indispensible.
Contrary to popular opinion, we also learn elsewhere in the New Testament that this body is not a mere abstract, invisible concept, but that it is expressed locally and visibly in individual church fellowships. We hear, to give some examples, about the church in Jerusalem, the church at Antioch, the church at Cenchreae, the church at Corinth, the churches of Asia, the churches of Galatia, the churches of Macedonia, and so on.
These individual church fellowships are essential for believers according to the writer of Hebrews. In Hebrews 10, after encouraging his weary readers to hold fast to Jesus Christ, he goes on in the same breath to say: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Simply put, it is most certainly good and necessary for each of us to “have a thing going” with Jesus. No one can believe in him for us—each of us must personally believe in him as our once crucified and now risen Lord and Savior. That noted, if we “have a thing going” with Jesus,” we are going to “have a thing going” with a local fellowship of fellow believers, for their perseverance and well being as well as ours, to the glory of God.
I once heard the story of a man who had been active for many years in the life of his congregation, but over time stopped participating.
One cold winter evening the pastor knocked at his door. They visited a while, something that wasn’t too difficult given the good relationship they’d long had.
As they watched the wood burn in the fireplace, the minister mentioned the man’s absence. The man bluntly explained that he believed in Jesus—that hadn’t changed—but he had come to conclude he was just as well off without the church as with it.
The minister didn’t say a word. He took the tongs from the rack, reached into the fire, pulled out a flaming ember, and laid it down by itself on the hearth. He still said nothing.
Both men sat in silence and watched the glowing ember lose its glow and turn slowly into a crusty, black lump.
After some moments of thoughtful silence, the man turned to his pastor and said, “I get the message, my friend—I see what you mean. I’ll be back next Sunday.” And he was.
Are you trying to glow on your own?
Think about that.
For further study, read Eph 4:15-16.