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And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:13 – ESV)
(Hebrews 4:13 – ESV)
One reason we have to go to church is that we cannot do self-evaluation properly. When you pray like David in Psalm 19:12-14 or Psalm 139:23-24 for the Lord to reveal sins to you, God often answers you through other people. For David it was the prophets like Gad or Nathan. For us it will be through the loving, caring, covenant community of the local church.
We can complain all we want about that certain local church not being a “loving, caring community”, but consider this. In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus talks about having a beam in our eye. Now consider how having a beam makes us see everything as having a beam in it. Sometimes we don’t notice a certain type of car all over the road until you own one yourself. You see a problem because you ARE a problem, we all are, but God uses the means of each other to help us all out. If you think that you don’t need church you are wrong, but even if you didn’t, even if you did have it all together well then you should come help the rest of us.
If you think you’re spiritual, just get close to your brethren, and you’ll find out what’s really inside you. It doesn’t matter how agitating, rude or unspiritual your brethren might be. This does not justify your intolerance or impatience with them. These attitudes are characteristics of your own immaturity – a weakness in YOU that needs to be perfected. This is why some people run from church to church – because it exposes their bad side. They see their own sins and blemishes revealed in their relationship with the brethren, or they become outraged when their self-willed desires or sins are challenged through convicting preaching or correction.
If a person remains an “island” to themselves they will never have to face up to the spiritual immaturity within them. But exposing themselves to the environment of the church will cause them to face conflicts that must be overcome in order to grow up. A sign of a spiritually mature person is that they can be loving and patient with anyone (1 John 2:10 / Galatians 5:22-23), and they can humbly submit themselves to truth and the correction of authority (Hebrews 13:17).
Hiding away in an electronic church world, where the entire ministry you receive is by radio, television, and the Internet will simply not do. You need more, you need the local body, and without that, those other things can be a curse instead of a blessing. These things can become a form of rejection, not release. Apart from a local assembly, there is no scriptural justification for them. I'm not saying these very things are damning you to hell, but I am saying for those that will not attend a local church, they are manifesting a rejection of discipleship, of personal responsibility before the Lord, of an internal witness on the soul and of scriptural warning.
Television may bring you under conviction but the congregation will help with correction and will bring out your sin in bold relief. You can hide and watch TV but you can’t hide from God. Even if you think you are with God you must expose yourself to the others whom God would choose to mold you. If there’s bitterness or a lack of love, it will become exposed. When you hide from church, you are exposed.