RELIGION ROUNDTABLE

Finding your place in the body of believers

Many people have stopped going to church because they’ve become physically worn out, hurt or simply backslidden. Going to church, the fellowship of the saints, or the “assembly” as it is called, is actually commanded by the scriptures (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:25).

The best part of going to church is that you’re actually participating in the assembling of the Lord’s body. The body makes its increase by that which every member supplies (Ephesians 4:16).

Whenever the saints come together, it’s not just a meeting, but it’s an “assembly.” An assembly means that every part belongs in a particular place, or location.

Ideally, the best part of going to church is knowing that you “belong” to that particular local body, and that whatever gifting of the Spirit you possess becomes the benefit of that body.

-- Bob McClain, Living by Faith Ministry, Oxford

Prioritizing God’s work for the week ahead

The best thing about going to church is experiencing participation in the body of Christ. Church is not only buildings but the living expression of Jesus and endeavoring to be his hands and feet. The power of this experience offers spiritual renewal for folks to grow in their faith, mature in their understanding and increase their commitment to service.

Fellowship is the practice of doing this in a welcoming community of believers — moving to support one another in our joys and concerns. The Church has not always done this well, and we repent of our shortcomings. We must work to be more intentional and Christ-like in our embrace of others.

In a chaotic world, joining worship in the body of Christ offers ritual and rhythm. Sabbath-keeping prioritizes our relationship with God and can set a tone for the week.

We follow an order of worship that moves through gathering, confessing with pardon, hearing the Word, proclaiming our faith and preparing to go out into God’s world — with beautiful music throughout.

Next month, many churches start Lent, wherein we observe a sacred time remembering Christ’s suffering and death while considering the difficulties and pain of this world. We then celebrate an Easter of God’s promise of hope.

If you are not engaged in church currently, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is a meaningful time to start.

 -- Lesley Ann Earles, First Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville

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