Before I get into today’s topic, a note.
I’ve been thinking about the last few blogs I’ve written, and praying about whether I’ve been perhaps too harsh on those who are “Dones.” I’m honestly not sure.
Here’s what I can say: I know that there are many people who leave the church because they have been hurt by others in the church. On that level, I have sympathy for them. But to me, the answer is not to abandon the fellowship of believers. Learning to forgive is difficult and painful. But if we truly love and desire to follow Christ, it is a lesson we need to learn. Why? Number one, to live in bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:29-32). And you know that if you’re grieving the Holy Spirit, you’re grieving the Father and Jesus too. Second, if we don’t learn to do this, what message are we sending to the world when Christ’s own people can’t love and forgive each other?
I suppose the people who I have the most problems with are the “Dones” who have hardened their hearts to the Word of God, and the “Dones” who simply feel they don’t need the body of Christ. Who in the words of Paul, say to the “hands”, “feet”, and other parts of the body, “I don’t need you.” (I Corinthians 12:21)
If there was one person who might have been able to say that, it was Paul. He was out in the world doing ministry. He was spreading the gospel, going here and there to do God’s work. In that sense, I don’t think he had a “home church” that he went to every week.
Nevertheless, he had a passion for fellowship. He always longed to be with his fellow believers (Romans 1:10-12, II Corinthians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:8). His main reason? He wanted to give to them what he could (Romans 1:11; II Corinthians 1:15). In other words, he recognized they needed him.
More, he affirmed his need for them, especially in their prayers (Ephesians 6:19-20; Colossians 4:3; I Thessalonians 5:25; II Thessalonians 3:1-2), but also in their encouragement (Romans 1:12).
For a person to say, “I don’t need the church,” is both arrogant and selfish. Arrogant in the sense that we all need each other. Selfish in the sense that even if we feel we don’t need them, they need us. Because we are part of the body too.
Anyway, back to the passage from Ephesians. It says that the people were devoted to prayer. It occurs to me that this does not mean just in their prayer closet. In the context, the idea is of people praying together.
Why is it important to pray together, not just by yourself? I think the main reason is that in doing so, not only are we aligning ourselves with God, but we are aligning ourselves with each other. We are fulfilling the words of Christ when he prayed that we would be one as he and the Father are one (John 17:20-21).
This was the practice of the church from the very beginning (Acts 1:14).
And when the church is united, we can do great things for the kingdom of God. But when we are divided, saying we don’t need each other, and biting and devouring each other, we are rendered weak and powerless to Satan’s great delight.
Let us not be that way. Let us be united as Christ’s church. We don’t always have to agree on everything. We don’t always have to do ministry the same way. But let us declare our love and need for each other. And as we do, Satan’s kingdom will be brought to its knees, and Jesus Christ will be exalted in our lives and in this world to the glory of God the Father.