At least two or three times a week Jews for Jesus Headquarters receives letters from people who say things like "I haven’t been able to find a church I like, so I’m not going anywhere"; or "There are no good teachers in the church any more. I know more than they do" or "There are so many denominations and none of them can agree, so I don’t go to any church." One person even said that Jewish people are not turning to Jesus in greater numbers because the church is not presenting a good enough witness to make them jealous.
Granted, the church could stand some improvement. Sometimes it seems that the best minds are in the pews instead of behind the pulpit. But before we throw stones at something Jesus loves (Ephesians 5:25 -32), maybe we should take a closer look at what the Bible says about independence and self-sufficiency.
The first Bible mention of a "loner" is in the second chapter of Genesis. When God looked at Adam all by himself in the Garden, his solitude was the first thing in the new creation that God pronounced "not good." (Genesis 2:18)
Why is it not good for us to be alone? Can’t we get all the revelation and guidance we need by studying the Bible and praying? Maybe some of us can, but there is a basic misconception behind that kind of reasoning. We are not called out of the world and into the Kingdom merely to have our own needs met, our own questions answered and our own prayers granted. God wants to meet our needs, but our greatest need is to be conformed to the image of his Son. He wants to do more than educate us and improve our characters. He wants each of us to be our best so that we can function together as a body.
Paul said it many times in many ways: the church is Jesus’ body on earth, made of many parts. Its purpose is to minister to the world just as Jesus did when he was physically present. Each believer is only one member of that body. We are indispensable to God if we cooperate with the rest of the body according to our own unique design. But we become an element for harm if we seek to go our own way and disassociate ourselves from the rest of the body. We may do ourselves good, amassing great stores of knowledge and spiritual insights, but we will do the body and the world no good at all.
Far more likely is what I’ve seen time after time as the result of what some call the "maverick syndrome." Individuals will fall away, lured by the deceitfulness of their own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), the pride of their own wisdom (Proverbs 16:18 ) and the snares of the devil (2 Timothy 2:26 ). Without the accountability and correction available to all of us within the body of Christ, we run the risk of attack from the outside. In 1 Peter 5:8 we read that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. When a lion is on the prowl, he does not leap to the front of the herd, where the strongest are. He lurks behind so he can pick off the weaklings, renegades and stragglers. Satan does the same. He attacks where he can be sure there will be no counter attack. If we think we are strong enough to withstand him on our own, we are not. We all need the prayers of other believers, and their support in our afflictions.
Furthermore, if we cut ourselves off from the body of believers, we lose the opportunity to obey Jesus’ second commandment that we love one another. Actually, this brings us full circle, because Christians who stand aloof from the church are failing to show the sacrificial love with which Christ loves the church, and they do so for the sake of their own selfish desires. They are serving themselves rather than others. Not only that, they are pronouncing judgment on others for not serving them better. They will not be there to pray for a brother in trouble, nor will anyone be there to pray for them. This is far from what Jesus had in mind.
So, instead of worrying about whether or not everyone in our church agrees with everything we think, do and say, let’s follow the admonition of Hebrews 10:24-25. Let’s consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let’s not give up meeting together as some are doing. Let’s encourage one another as we see the Day of Christ approaching.
Editor’s Note: Marty Walker is Chief Correspondent at our Jews for Jesus headquarters office in San Francisco . She has been part of our administrative staff since September of 1985. Her husband Don is also on staff at headquarters as head of our Communications Department .