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photo: Martha G. Brady

GOD has given you a new heart and made a new creation of you when you become a part of His family. He also talks a lot in the New Testament about the importance of the Church (big C…the universal Church…all those that truly belong to Him!). Those that are part of the Church are found sprinkled through all our local churches. Sadly, not everyone who is a member of a church (little c…this is your local church and contains members of the Church mixed in.) is part of the family of GOD.

There are seekers in any local church. There are those who pretend (for whatever reason) to be christians, but know they aren’t, There are, hopefully a majority, that are growing in their walk with GOD and growing in their trust in Him as they reach out in mission to the world around them. There are a few who are at varying levels of Christian growth, but often, for reasons of failing health, are not able to be very involved in the church or outreach.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them,
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

II Corinthians 5:17-19 ESV

So why is the Church here and why is it helpful to us as we are growing and becoming who GOD has made us to be as new creations in Christ?

One thing we need to realize is that the Church is the Bride of Christ. She is the picture of Christ here in the world. One job of the Church is to be a place to care for those who are young in Christ. It is a place where they can grow and develop, just like babies and children do in a family.  In a family, children learn from what we tell them to do. But even more than that, they learn mostly from the way we model life before them!  It works that way in the Church too. We learn from what we are taught for sure, but even more, we learn from the modeling that takes place by those what are around us.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it,
just as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.

Ephesians 5:25-30 ESV

Over the years, I have learned from older women around me. Actually, I learned from both kinds of modeling. I just didn’t want to be the one who was the negative modeler. Sadly, I’m sure there have been times I was. I have to be real here.

I learned from others as I served with others who had different gifts.I learned more about how their gifts affected the way they related to others in the church and also benefitted the church.

I also learned as I watched the ways older women worded things when they were kind. Yes, I was raised in a Christian home, but words were not used kindly in our home. That was an area where I had much to learn! It was helpful to watch women in our churches and see how they interacted with their children and with other people. I learned a lot.

Our local church is a representation of the Church to us. It is a place of community as we learn what it is like to be the new creations in Christ that we are. Click To Tweet

In addition, I married a man who was/is very kind. Over the years, I watched him in many settings where he wasn’t always treated kindly or at times, even respectfully. But he honestly did not hold it against others. He also knew how to talk to them in ways that kept the doors to the relationship open. He often had to counsel me when it came to that! But only when I asked for help. His theory was that until a person was willing to ask for help, it was a waste to offer advice. I know there were notable exceptions, but for the most part, that is how he lived.

I can still remember his help that I asked for it when sending an email to a family member…I don’t remember which one now. He had already showed me a number of barbs I had in it that I was totally unaware of. I had removed them. But there was one final, very subtle one left.

I said, “Just let me keep that one.”

He said,”You have to decide. Do you want to keep the barb, or do you want the relationship? You can’t do both” With that, I got rid of the last barb.

Our local church is a representation of the Church to us. It is a place of community as we learn what it is like to be the new creations in Christ that we are.

In the local church, we have a community of believers. We have a time of worship on Sundays where we worship corporately. There is power and encouragement in reading GOD’s Word, praying, confessing sin, and singing together. Of course, hearing GOD’s Word preached is also powerful! But we also need to have a sense of community as we meet in smaller groups...depending on how your local church is organized, you probably have Sunday School classes, small groups and other kinds of groups where you work and minister together as well as receive input and relate to each other in a variety of ways.

We certainly need a balance. Not all of our lives should be tied to our church. We need to be involved in our neighborhoods and communities too. It all depends on where we are in our Christian life. Certainly, if we are new Christians, we may need to be spending more time with a mentor or two that are discipling us.

So remember the blessing of your local church. It will never be perfect. But it is to be a place where you can grow in your faith and be encouraged to reach out into your community as well. There are so many ways to do this. There are many combinations. You just need to be in a place where it works well for you to serve…not sit and soak.

May GOD give you wisdom as you find the places GOD has for you to minister and be ministered to in your local church and in your community as you grow into being the new creation GOD has already created in you.