Religions Without the Church? | Tom Novotny

Today’s devotional, chosen by Tom Novotny, comes from A Dangerous Grace, by Chuck Colson. The message is important today, even though we cannot meet together in person for church. 


“Americans today hold a paradoxical attitude toward religion: Polls show a rise in interest in religion – but at the same time a decline in church membership. 


The explanation is simple: A lot of people think they can have religion without the church. Many Christians – especially evangelicals – have come to see their faith primarily in individualistic terms, as the gospel of “Jesus and me.” 


It’s true, of course, that the gospel begins by restoring our relationship with God. But that’s only the beginning. In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you think I am?” Peter burst out, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It was a confession of faith inspired directly by the Holy Spirit.


Jesus’ response was not, “Peter, that’s wonderful. Go your way and have an abundant life.” No, Jesus immediately announced that He would establish His church – a new society of people who share Peter’s confession.


When we become Christians, we first become part of what theologians call the church universal: the whole body of believers, throughout the ages and across the globe, of every nation and color. This universal body is broken down, however, into smaller units – the church particular. This is where the work of the church is done: preaching the Word, making disciples, and administering the sacraments. 


Once we see this bigger picture, it becomes obvious that membership in a local church is not optional for a Christian. It’s the very essence of what it means to live out our faith.”