I have had far too many discussions with people about why they don’t need to be part of a church. “I get what I need from the internet or TV” “I love Jesus, but I don’t like church” “I am part of a great online community and that meets my needs.” Those are just a sampling of comments I have heard the last few years. Now, the trend is moving toward what’s called “Virtual Church.” They are saying churches should live stream their worship services and have forums for people to engage online as a supplement to the physical location and group of people who come together.
That all sound good until you need a physical touch; a hug of assurance, and encouraging arm around your shoulder, weeping eyes of someone willing to hold your hand and weep with you. Our church has been rocked by a series of tragedies in the last couple of months; cancer, death and heartache. Last Sunday, I again witnessed why I love the church. Some of our members came forward crushed by circumstances. With only knowing they were hurting, almost half our group came up with them and surrounded them with love and encouragement with no clue as to what happened to them. All we knew was that our brothers and sisters were hurting deeply. The other half of the church was weeping along with the group. When I left to go home an hour later, there were still groups of people hugging and praying for these families in need. That just the latest example of the wonderful aspect of a spiritual family being together. That’s something that cannot be replicated online, over the TV channel, or sitting alone at home.
Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. At least 6 different times Jesus is recorded touching someone to heal them. Why? Most likely because it had been a long time since that person had felt the touch of another human being and Jesus knew they needed that touch. Acts 20 shows us the story of Paul saying goodbye to a group of men he loved dearly, and they embraced him and wept at his departure.
I know you can make a lot of arguments that you don’t need a church family. I am honest enough to admit that the church has often failed at doing our job right. But when the church does it right, like what I saw the other day, you understand why God instituted the church as a gathering of believers and not an online forum.
Do you need to know you’re loved? Do you need an arm around your shoulder? Then be a part of the church. I pray its strength and love will amaze you as much as it does me.