Stay With The Bunch
by Impact Church
Two are better than one,…and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Ever seen an episode of “Wild Kingdom” or a National Geographic special? Think about the moments leading up to the lion pouncing on his prey. There is usually a herd of animals clambering near a waterhole, but the hungry lion doesn’t have his eyes on the potential smorgasbord. Instead, he is locked in on the antelope who has wandered off from the pack.
To avoid the unsavory scene about to unfold on your mental screen, let’s consider another one of nature’s lessons. Picture stepping into your kitchen and spotting a bunch of ripe, yellow bananas,…and a separate one that has already been pulled from the rest. Which one is about to get peeled?
What is true in the Serengeti and in your kitchen is often true in the church world as well. It’s the one who splits off from the rest that is an easier target for the predator. Now, after you get over the shock of having been just compared to a ravenous lion, consider who the Apostle Peter says is stalking isolated Christians who start to sever their ties to a local body of believers.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9, ESV)
Which believer do you think is an easier target for Satan: the one who is entwined with like-minded brothers and sisters in the weekly life of the congregation, or the one who shows up only for worship services on a somewhat regular basis? There is no wonder that Peter warned us that a big part of our resisting and standing steadfastly in our faith is to remember that we are not isolated members of Christ’s body but part of a worldwide brotherhood!
Jesus knew we needed to belong to something bigger than ourselves. If anyone ever could have accomplished His purposes as a Lone Ranger, certainly the Master could have done it. But He hand-picked what Millennials today would call a “posse,” a group of followers with whom He shared His life and ministry. He enjoyed intimate fellowship with His friends, investing in them and sending them out in pairs to proclaim His life-transforming Gospel!
Sounds like Jesus knew well the principle that the wise King Solomon laid out in Ecclesiastes 4. Two are better than one – not the worst philosophy when you’re considering that banana sandwich, by the way – …and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Earlier, Solomon praised the countenance-lifting virtues of simple friendship and brotherhood, even when adversity arises. (Proverbs 17:17, 27:6,17)
What the two wisest men who have ever walked this earth knew is this: life is better lived in fellowship and loving relationship – Paul calls it “koinonia” in the Greek – with others who share the common bond of faith, love and devotion to the Godhead.
Sadly, many believers run from the church when they should be running to it. They hit the rough patches of life: hospital stays, funeral visitations, job layoffs, marital discord, substance abuse, etc. Maybe by then they’ve already had their feelings hurt, or maybe during these times they take their eyes off the One who will never forsake them and look critically at humans who will let them down inevitably. From the pulpit to the back door, the higher the podium they have placed that brother or sister on, the deeper the hurt will be in the “offended” party’s mind.
“Oh, I haven’t given up on God, just the church,” they rationalize. “I can follow Jesus from a distance.”
Sounds like our friend, Peter, who warmed himself by the distant fires when the Master was led away to be tried on a cold Judean night. (John 18:12-27) Isolated and alone, it was only a matter of time before the once-boisterous spokesman for the Twelve cowered in denial of His Lord.
Friends, we all know someone who has severed ties – whether physically or emotionally – from a local congregation. They seem content to watch their favorite preacher on Sunday morning TV, convincing themselves that they are enjoying all the benefits of Christianity without the risk of unmet expectations and the perceived demands of church membership. But how many people do you know who have stayed in that season of life very long and prospered spiritually?
Sadly, the carnage from the National Geographic documentary returns to our minds.
In all candor, church congregations, like any other family, can be dysfunctional at times. Will you always like the music or every sermon the pastor preaches? Probably not. Will some well-meaning (or not) sister occasionally plant her nose smack in the middle of your private affairs? Probably so. Will some jerk of a Christian brother (God is still working on some of them to understand their new identity in Christ) say something mean to you one day when you really just need a hug? Yep.
Well, serve God anyway. Love the brotherhood anyway. Stay involved anyway. Don’t let the enemy deceive you into thinking things are better away from the herd. Stay with the bunch! Don’t keep jumping from one place to another,…put some roots down and show some stability.
As author Patrick Morley says, don’t be estranged from your Heavenly Father just because a few siblings let you down! Keep your eyes on Jesus,…He never disappoints!