I need the local church.
I need the local church because I was created to belong. I am not talking about belonging to a club. If that was my deepest longing I could scratch that itch at an Atlanta United game. No, I need something more than that. There is a deeper longing. A longing for something, that no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot reproduce on my own.
I need the local church because I need someone else to tell me the Gospel.
There is power in a Gospel-conversation between two believers that makes Hell quake. Like, after-cross, after-shocks, a Gospel-word shared by a brother or sister is a movement of hope from one heart to another. We were made to speak these New Heaven/ New Earth truths into the darkest corners of our fellow Christian’s soul.
We were made for this.
Few Christians have spoken with such beauty and clarity about our need to hear and share Gospel-truths, like the 20th-century martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man. Therefore the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the Word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brothers is sure.”
The last sentence bears repeating and further consideration. We need the local church precisely because we need Jesus. Specifically, we need Jesus communicated to us by a brother or sister who is also trusting Jesus. God has designed this neediness into our very nature. Yes, we need Jesus, therefore I must need His Body, His Bride. A Sunday worship service, where the Gospel is sung, seen in the ordinances and heard in the preached Word, provides believers with the soul-oxygen we simply cannot produce for ourselves: the life on life communication of and encouragement with Good News of Resurrection.
I need the local church you see because I need the Gospel.