Today, I offer you another thought as to why churches need to be open. As before, if you missed the first installment, I would encourage you to go back and read it to give some context to my thoughts.
My wife and I have been watching ESPN’s “The Last Dance.” I am a bit of a sports junkie and she grew up, like so many Americans, idolizing Michael Jordan. The show is sponsored in part by Facebook. As a result, I have seen a lot of ads from Facebook recently. They are apparently spending money to promote their platform during this pandemic. The tagline they are using in their various advertising campaigns is, “More Together.” What Facebook wishes to communicate is that its users have some sense of real community on their platform. So, we see cute clips of members of online groups such as surfers, sports fanatics, chefs, lovers of Camaros, ect. . . all smiling happily and just doing their thing!
It’s kind of ironic that an advertisement platform is spending money to advertise its platform! They want to make us believe that somehow our online communities bring us unity and joy. I suspect that they know that it doesn’t really work that way which is why they are spending money on ads to make us believe that it does. As someone who grew up with the internet as the internet grew up, I have rarely found that online “groups” or “communities” actually bring unity and joy.
I don’t fault Facebook for trying. Besides the fact that they are a massive business seeking to earn profits, Facebook has tried for years to scratch a perennial human itch – we long to belong to something. We want to be a part of something. We want community. We want family.
Frankly, it’s more than just a common itch or want. I want a good chocolate cake. I want a Super Bowl for my favorite football team. I want a chance to go skydiving. These are all wants and common wants at that. But then there are different kinds of wants. I want a roof over my head in the cold Minnesota winters. I want food each day. I want clothes to wear. These later “wants” are more than common wants. These are needs.
I would suggest that wanting to belong to something is more like a need. We need to belong to something. We need to be a part of something. We need community. We need family. We need these things because God made us for these things. After the first human was created – Adam – God declared, “It is not good that man should be alone.” So, God created marriage and as a result, the family, clans, communities, and nations of the earth.
The trouble for us is that all of our collective relationships, from the nation to the nuclear family, have been marred by sin. We face the onerous challenge of living with people who are sinners and they with us.
That is why the church is so important. The church is a new family, a new nation, and a new people. Christians in a local church call each other “brother” and “sister.” A local church, in part, is an imperfect snapshot of the community and family that is to come. We are still sinners. But we share together the hope of a perfect family in Jesus that is not yet seen but will be. In Jesus Christ’s glorious and coming kingdom, those who are born again Christians and joint-heirs with Christ will be a part of the greatest community and family that anyone can ever envision or dream of. We were made for such a family.
Each week, as Christians gather with Christians, they look forward to that grand community. We, as Christians, know and even feel that we have a place to belong. When we are not able to meet, it’s like being ripped out of our neighborhood or being estranged from our family. Our whole sense of identity is distorted.
A while back I was talking to two ladies in my church. They spoke of how much they loved being at church. One of them described our church as “a family.” The other lady, who was still fairly young in her Christian life said with a beaming and joyful smile, “it’s a whole new family!” Truly in Christ, and with Christ’s people we are a whole new family. When we gather together, we are really “more together.”
Churches need to be open.