‘I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.’ – 2 John 1.12From Sam Lomas:
I have been reading the book Love Your Church by Tony Merida. I’d like to commend it to you now and take an opportunity to share a snippet that I found particularly encouraging.
The first chapter of this book is all about belonging. A key point made in this chapter is that belonging to a church is never something done in isolation. The local church is always a place of community where you belong to something greater than yourself.
Merida goes through Ephesians 2 & 3 and shows us that the Church is an amazing place, because it is the dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. In these chapters, the Apostle Paul uses three kinds of imagery to describe the church: 1) a building, 2) a body, 3) a family.
The message Paul is trying to convey is that the Church is not an individual experience but a shared one. When you are part of your local Church, you are like bricks interlocked in a building, like limbs in the body working together, and like the deep relational bonds only found in family. Which of these three images can you most clearly see the church as being?
Being part of the church is a privilege. Joining together in corporate worship is like nothing else on earth. When we can’t be together in-person we miss it. Our souls cry out for it. I’m not sure whether you have been back to church in-person yet or not, but I think it is fair to say that something is lacking when we are separated from community. When you feel able to return, it will be a beautiful moment.
Merida rather insightfully points out that we are not the first people to long for face-to-face interaction. In the verse we read above from 2 John, we see that John was also frustrated when unable to connect face-to-face.
Merida comments, ‘John says there are limits to pen and ink (or, for us, the computer/texting/video). Emails, texts, and calls are poor substitutes for embodied relationships. Something is clearly lacking without face-to-face interaction. A lack of real embodied relationships will lead to a loss of joy.’
Coming together as a building, body & family is beautiful and full of joy! For some, returning to in-person church is a big step. But it is a good step. A step towards community, and a step towards embracing the joy of belonging.