There are lots of lists out there describing what people consider to be the most important things to do in life. And these lists have lovely sentiments. Find love. Appreciate your family. Do something you are passionate about. I don’t disagree with any of that advice. Those are important things. But all those lists avoid […]
At your church, does everyone look like you? Do they all wear the same type of clothing? Does everyone have the same skin color? Does everyone make roughly the same amount of money? Do most members have the same level of education? Probably not. The interesting thing about church is that it brings together people who are very different.
We don’t otherwise have that experience in our lives. We tend to choose friends who are like us. We work at jobs where we typically have a common level of education and income. Even in our own families, we tend to be very similar (and those who don’t fit in are given the term “black sheep of the family”).
The beauty of church is that it forces us out of our comfort zone of solely dealing with people like us. For instance, at my church our members have a wide range of political views. There are people with intellectual and physical handicaps. We don’t share the same skin colors or incomes. We are all so very different.
Admittedly, sometimes those differences are uncomfortable. I tend to be very politically liberal. I also am theologically flexible. I’m not concerned about what religion people practice, as much as whether they are consistently kind to others. At my church, there are people with whom I am on the same page. But there are also some very dogmatic people, the “it’s my way or the highway” sort of folks. That doesn’t bother me. What ties us together as a church isn’t a common viewpoint.
Instead, what binds us together is something very unique. It is more than a belief in the Apostle’s Creed. Frankly, one can believe in the Apostle’s Creed and never feel inclined to step into a church. Rather, what binds a church together is a belief that while we can worship God and read the Bible separately, something very powerful happens when we do that together.
When we go to church we are inspired to make the world a better place because we are surrounded by people who have that same agenda. We are spurred on to try to become better people because we spend our time together talking about that very subject. You aren’t going to have that experience at a country club. Nor will you have that experience at a bar. You probably won’t experience that at your workplace, or at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Church is the one place where our common denominator is a belief in God and in fulfilling His will on earth.
There is a lovely hymn that I grew up with that epitomizes that special something that happens when we worship together as a church. It is called, “Blest be the Tie That Binds,” and it is one of the nicest hymns ever written. I include the words below, so that you might enjoy the author’s sentiment as much as I do.
“Blest Be the Tie that Binds” by John Fawcett, 1740-1817
- Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
- Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our alms, are one,
Our comforts and our cares.
- We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
- When here our pathways part,
We suffer bitter pain;
Yet, one in Christ and one in heart,
We hope to meet again.