Christians are part of something bigger than the local church

Christians are part of something bigger than the local church

For most of us, being part of a local church is the key place we experience the Christian community. As it should be! It is with the people that we see regularly and we know well that we live out what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We learn to bear with one another, to forgive one another, to use our gifts to build one another up, and to share our lives in lots of different ways. All believers should be a part of a local church.

Yet it is also important to know that our local church is part of something bigger. Jesus did not only die for the people in your local church. He died to make a people for himself from every tribe, people and language. It is very helpful for us to understand that we have brothers and sisters all around the world that also love Jesus.

This can take a range of forms, of course. Perhaps your church is part of a denomination. In recent weeks, I have had the privilege of speaking at a sister church in my city as part of a scheduled pulpit swap. I also spoke at a sister church in another state as an invited guest, being privileged to open God’s word and get to know brothers and sisters I had never met before. These experiences drove home to me that God is doing good things in other places. God’s work is far more extensive than anything I can see in my own local church.

We can think still more widely, of course. Our denomination or tribe is by no means the only group of churches that love Jesus. We have brothers and sisters who worship in churches with different labels above the door. They might differ from our church in how they think about baptism, church government, or worship. They might have different emphases to how we go about things. This is also good for us to reflect on. The way our local church does it is not the only way it can be done. God is working in many different types of churches. We must not be arrogant and think we are the pure church and everyone else is wrong.

But we can think still more widely. We have brothers and sisters all around the world. Peter uses this fact to encourage his readers in the first century:

8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 

                                                                                                                                  (1 Pet. 5:8-9 ESV)

Life is often difficult for Christians. And that is not only for us, but for our brothers and sisters in Asia, in the Middle East, wherever they might be in the world. Yet we can resist the devil and stand firm. Other believers are also striving to do this. Many in harder places have stood firm. What we are experiencing is nothing new or unique to us. We are not alone in the world. We might not know the names of our spiritual family members in Uganda or Argentina, but we know they are there, and we should pray for them.

Seeing ourselves as part of a much bigger whole makes us humble. God has done all of this. We are a small part of a much bigger kingdom of God. How incredible!