I have a deep love for the church, which is an integral part of my walk with God. I have been deeply connected with five different churches from childhood through today. In each congregation, I learned more about God through interacting with His saints, as fellow members used their spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ.
I look forward to attending church. The church my wife, Grace, and I attend now reflects the diversity of the body of Christ. Each week we gather—young and old, rich and poor, representing many ethnic backgrounds. We come together to worship the God who created each of us in His image. My wife and I often recite Psalm 122:1 to each other on Sundays: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” As a church member, I have been taught, encouraged, and led in following Christ.
The word church has a dual meaning. It refers to the local gathering of believers that you and I attend. The Greek word ekklesia, which is used 114 times in the New Testament, designates us as “a called out group,” as we come together as one in Christ.
But church also refers to the universal church, which cannot be contained in any single building. Millions of people, past and present, who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation make up the church. This is what Jesus meant when He promised to Peter, “I will build my church” (Matt 16:18).
Both the local and the universal church are more than just a building. Both the local and the universal church are God’s people, the body of Christ. The church gathers to worship together, pray together, and study the Scriptures together. We gather as the church in order to focus our hearts and minds on God and allow Him to shape our perspective about our cares and concerns. We gather as the church to grow in spiritual maturity. We fellowship, celebrating what it means to live and work together as one body; and we serve, expanding outward as we minister within our communities and around the world as light and salt.
Church plays an important role in the life of any believer. D. L. Moody once said, “Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” Today, I thank God for His life-sustaining gift of the church.