I think a lot of us have this idea that Church is a volunteer organization. We talk like the men and women in our congregations make their own decisions on whether to belong or not. It’s like you experience a personal relationship with God in Christ and then you join a church community that exists to promote your personal spiritual health. We act like people join a church based on common interests and likes and dislikes they share with other people and they can stay or leave depending on whether they feel like their needs are being met. Knowledge of God, understanding who God is and what God is doing, reshapes the way we see Christian community. This is all God’s work, not ours.
“In fact, God has arranged the parts in the Body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” ~1 Corinthians 12:18
In the Bible, whenever the Gospel is preached, when the power of what God has done for the world in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is proclaimed, these communities of faith just pop up. These churches are only defined by one thing: their joyful acceptance of the Good News of salvation from God in Christ. Nothing else. The churches in the Bible are made up of Jews and Gentiles together, rich and poor people together, free people and slaves together, men and women together, national citizens and foreigners and refugees together. People don’t choose that setup. Only God puts us in communities like that. Communities of faith.
We see it in the way our Lord built his community. He put together a group of people that nobody else ever would. A liberal tax collector and a right-wing Zealot, a couple of poor fishermen, a couple of guys with horrible anger issues, a couple of self-serving betrayers. None of them chose to be in this group. They were called.
That’s the way God puts people together. No screenings. No background checks. No qualifications or applications. It’s outrageous.
You know, before I go over to someone’s house or invite somebody over to our house, I want to make sure they’re mostly like us. Where do they live? What does he do? Where do their kids go to school? I want to see their voting record. I want to see the stickers on his truck. Are they OU fans? I want to know all these things before I commit to any kind of community with these people.
Our God most certainly does not build community that way. He calls us and gathers us together in Christ. He calls us and places us within a community of faith for his glorious purposes.
You should feel called by God to belong to the church where he’s placed you. If you don’t feel called to be there, in that place, with those people, for God’s purposes, then you probably should re-think why you’re there. The people in your church are not volunteers; we’re not here by choice. We are called and placed in our communities of faith by our Lord.