The Fellowship of the Church
God doesn’t want us to live as isolated individuals. When He brings us nearer to Him, He also brings us nearer to one another. In this brief clip, Sinclair Ferguson discusses the importance of belonging to the church and the wonderful witness of our fellowship and community. Learn more in his new teaching series, The Basics of the Christian Life, available now from the Ligonier store.
I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in a rural part of the world where there are shepherds and sheep, but if you have you notice something happening when the shepherd appears and as he gathers in his sheep using his sheepdog they not only come near to the shepherd but as they’re brought near to the shepherd they are inevitably brought nearer to one another so that when we are called to faith in Jesus Christ we’re called not only to come to Him but to come nearer to each other. Or there’s the picture of the father and the family or the picture of the head and the body. And so many of these pictures of what it means to be a Christian are pictures of what it means to belong to the fellowship of the church. You remember the picture Peter uses. We are like living stones being built into a temple. I think it was probably easier to put dead stones into a temple. Dead stones make a noise when you chisel them, but once you’ve chiseled them they’re done forever. That’s not true of Christians, is it? As God chisels us to fit together, He’s constantly having to re-chisel us because He wants us not just to be isolated individuals; He wants us to be a new community.
Now this is something we really need to understand in the 21st century because we live in a day when families are dysfunctional, when communities are dysfunctional, when governments sometimes seem out of control; and it’s within that context that the church of Jesus Christ can shine.
We may be past the sell date for simply giving individual testimony to Jesus Christ because people in our postmodern culture say, “Well, if that works for you, then that’s fine. It’s never worked for me and I’m not really interested.” And so you see, there is no purchase sometimes in other people’s lives by the testimony that we give. But when there is a new community, men and women who watch that new community realize there is no parallel to this anywhere to be found. There is nowhere else they can look to see this kind of community, to see things functioning the way they function. They may even hate what the Christian church stands for but in a strange way simultaneously be marvelously attracted to the product of the gospel, and that gives the gospel purchase on their lives so that they say, “What on earth is the secret of this new community?” And the answer is the secret is not to be found on earth; the secret is to be found in the Savior who came from heaven.