I understand the Church hurt you, and now you may be a home-alone Christian. I have a message entitled, 'If you are disillusioned about the church, it is because you have an illusion of the church.' The Church is not always a safe place. If you come to Church, you will get wounded sooner or later. But we are wounded no matter where we go, to Church or somewhere secular. So why not return to Church, where healing also occurs? It is better to be injured by a friend than kissed by the enemy. And the comfort you are receiving by staying away from a body of believers is the enemy of your soul, not your friend. Come back to the body of Christ and get healed.

The Church is both religious and relational. Yet, we get to choose which one we are. The Church will always have rulekeepers who lack grace and relationship. The Church will also have the grace healers found in relationships who know pain ensues when boundaries are not respected. To be in a relationship with Jesus means to also be in a relationship with His Church. If you live longer than the thief on the cross, more is expected of you. Don't die at home alone.

I know that the Church has lost her salt for many. Churches of our day are irrelevant to our culture because we have lost our unique identity to solve the hopelessness of society. We are another cog in the system that doesn't give a way out. So, the Church is disdained. People have an illusion of what the Church is thus are disillusioned when it does not conform to their expectation. For many reasons, people don't know the value of the church and its local body.

One reason people have left the Church is thinking it is an educational institution. Why attend and go through useless traditions when we can streamline knowledge through a book or podcast?

Another reason people have left the Church is because it doesn't meet their social service needs. Government and secular services do a better job of meeting temporal needs. People have flipped the major and minor commissions of the Church. The primary function of the Church is to make disciples. Secondary care is for people's natural needs. Even Jesus said you follow me because I gave you bread, not because I offer signs of eternal life. Most people don't want spiritual help. They want their natural needs met. The Church cannot meet the insatiable demands of the flesh. Neither can the government, but that is another lesson.

And if you want to impact society through service, nonsecular services seem to do better as well, but only because the Church is not doing first what it is best at, preaching the gospel with grace and truth. No other organization has grace and truth to offer.

Still, others stop attending Church because the Sunday worship experience doesn't compare with the world's Friday and Saturday evening worship experience. If worship is about talent and not in spirit and truth, put on headphones and lose yourself. Why assemble for a less-than-spectacular Sunday morning worship service? Show us a miracle, and then we will come. Like Herod, we were hoping to see a miracle, but when we don't, we disregard Jesus and His Church. God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Salty Christians can get lost in less-than-professional musicianship as long as the words are spirit and life. More satisfying than a perfect performance by a talented artist. To this day, people do not know who they worship.

Suppose the Church has lost her salt for you. Is it reasonable to trample upon the Church with words of accusation and injustice? Let me tell you what the salty Church offers that you cannot get anywhere else in society or even in your private devotion to God.

What does the Church offer that no other institution in the world has to offer?

  1. The Church offers grace and truth.

The law came by Moses, and grace and truth came by Jesus. The unsalted Church tells it like it is but offers no help to change, like the Pharisees, who have the keys to the kingdom but keep people from entering. A repentance but have no relationship to enter rest. There is also the other side of this unsalted Church that offers grace without repentance that will never lead to rest. Why attend a church that doesn't provide change with grace and truth?

But salty churches offer grace and truth. The truth is that we all have come short of the glory of God. And the grace to overcome all sin is through Jesus alone. Only Jesus has the perfect blend of grace and truth administered through his body called the Church.

The home-alone Christian does not have this blend of grace and truth. Home alone, we deceive ourselves in the self-justification of continued sin, nullifying the grace of God. Or we condemn ourselves because we truth without grace brings death. The home-alone Christian becomes lawless or works-based but thinks he is spiritual.

  1. Your Witnesses

Water baptism is a sign of dying to sin and being raised in the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. It is a public declaration of the new life, born again from above. It is a witness but not the only witness needed for a changed life. Everything of God needs two or three witnesses to be legitimate.

To be born again is to be part of the Church and the Bride of Christ. We are the Bride of Christ, and every marriage needs witnesses. The church assembly is both the bride and the witnesses. There is no eloping with Jesus' home alone. We cannot continue to ghost the Church and have an authentic witness that we are one with Christ and His body. It is His body in that we experience a resurrection of the dead.

John, the apostle of love, who laid his head upon the chest of Jesus, writes; they went out from us because they were never with us. Their witness was false or unverified. Their witness was more in tune with the love of the world than the love of God. Without the salty Church, the home-alone Christian is unverifiable. Authentic or not, unverifiable.

  1. No Greater Love

Jesus gave a new commandment to His disciples that we love one another as He has loved us. This commandment is a greater love than loving God and loving our neighbors as we do ourselves. We are to love one another as Christ has loved us. There is no greater love than to lay down our lives for one another. Jesus laid down His life for us. We ought to follow His example. The world will know we are His disciples because of our greater love for one another. But if we are home-alone Christians, we agree more with the world than Jesus, who has built His unmovable Church upon the rock anchored in Him.

  1. Culture Change

A culture change is another blessing we get in regular fellowship with the Church and not staying home alone. We can't get culture from watching Church online. Culture comes from being an active part of a group of believers who have sold out to the will of God. We all have culture. Culture is created by those with whom we are in fellowship. If we are in fellowship with the world and not a church of blood-bought believers, then the world is our culture, not the kingdom of God.

We have many cultures to which we belong. But the strongest culture must be the counterculture we get from fellowship among believers. Being a Christian cannot be a sub-culture as it is with many. A salty church is not a pop culture; wherever we give our time and heart, it will become our culture. We are called to be transformed by the renewing of the mind and not conform to this world and its many cultures. Hearing the word of God while home alone will not transform us. Becoming that living sacrifice in a salty church will bring about the culture of heaven in oneself, which all true believers desire.

  1. The Greater Light

A salty church is a light on a hill that everyone in the city can see. We are to be the light of a town that leads people out of darkness into His marvelous light. Yours and my light home alone is not a bright enough to light up a city to remove all shadows of death and doubt. We can give light to those around us, but if we want to see a culture change, we must double up our batteries and shine together. God created two lights: a lesser light and a greater light. We must shine together in regular fellowship and assembly to be the greater light.

  1. Provoked to Love

No matter what culture or group we attend, we are provoked into buying something. The only place we are provoked into an agape love is within the community of a salty Church. The salty Church calls sin what it is and then is provoked by love to wash it away by the blood of Jesus.

Cancel culture is not part of a salty church. I may not sin like you, but I do have sin that needs to be washed away. And if I judge you, I make myself a judge, not a doer. If I break one part of the law, I violate the whole law.

You can come to a salty church and not be canceled because of the shamefulness of your sin.

I saw a video recently where a trans-individual shot a video asking a pastor if he would be welcome in his Church. The pastor, caught off guard by the question and discipled by the world's inclusivity doctrine, said, yes, of course, you are.

I repeat, cancel culture is not part of a salty church, but the pastor answered wrong. The Church is for those seeking forgiveness of sin through the shed blood of Jesus. Like the rest of us, anyone willing to repent and turn to God is welcome in a body of believers. No sin makes it on an exclusion list. We as a church are not to fellowship with believers who continue in sin without repentance. Believers who are not motivated to separate from their sin will be put out from among us, hoping they will return with godly sorrow and repentance. And if they return in the sorrow of God with repentance, then we are to restore them in the confidence of acceptance of God and the body of believers. No one can cancel the love of God. This same love is shed in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. The salty Church cannot cancel the love of God, but we must withdraw from the unrepentant.

Provoked to love is to address the cancer of sin with grace and truth. Only Jesus has the right to cancel. But a home-alone Christian has already canceled themselves.

  1. Healed

Jesus forgives all our sins by His shed blood. When we confess our sins to the Father, He forgives us, then begins washing us clean from all iniquity as He did the disciples on the last night together.

Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. For Peter, it was a no-go at first. But when he found out he could have no part in Jesus if he refused. Peter wanted his head and hands washed as well. But Jesus said you are ready clean by receiving the words of eternal life; but, you have some sins that you walk in that need to be washed away.

The home-alone Christian doesn't want anyone to know how dirty their feet are, much less submit to one another in washing the shame of sin away with the watering of the word and prayer. The salty Church has the grace and truth ability to wash away the guilt of the sin of the flesh without judging the heart. But if we stay home alone, do we have any part in Jesus and His Church? God forgave our trespasses and cleansed our hearts, but as long as our feet are dirty, we will be heavy laden and over yoked without the compassion of the Church. Confession of our sins to one another is not about the forgiveness of God but healing from long-standing iniquity in our lives. Inner healing happens by being a part of the Church. Open infected wounds happen by staying home alone and scratching at the scab.

God has chosen the Church to bring healing to those who have injured themselves in habitual sin. We can go to someone in the world, a counselor, a friend, or a group therapist. But only in a salty church can we be healed of the injury and made whole. We learn to manage and live with the injury in the world, but only in the fellowship of believers we are made whole.

Hurt by the Church?

When Adam sinned, all creation fell. Everything in this world is touched by sin and death. We have all been hurt in this world, including the spaces God ordained for safety. Failed marriages, oppressive governments, unfair employment, and the Church all have broken us. One can argue that there is no pain like pain afflicted by the Church, and maybe so because of the amount of unearned trust people have placed in the Church. The Church is not perfect. The Church is not the Savior and Lord of the souls of men. In our society, we may be hard-pressed to find a salty church where we can grow, be healed, and be made whole from the transgressions of sin.

But don't stay home alone. If Jesus is our Lord, and we have trusted Him. He, who is perfect, will lead us to imperfect people recovering from an incorrigible flesh but learning to minster life, not death. So, I hope and pray that you find a local body of believers committed to Christ, His message, and His love. I pray that you are healed from the inside out as you walk in close fellowship and trust with our Lord and Savior as He leads us into an imperfect relationship with the Church.

But what is the Church in my second closing?

Church has become optional for the masses of the unverified Christians in the West. They attend when it is convenient and desirable. They tend to be like the disciple Thomas: doubtful. When the salty Church receives a visitation from the Lord, Thomas doubts our testimony because it is not his experience and truth. Always doubtful and never blessed because this attendance-optional Church has to see it to believe it. If every church service is not an event to remember, it is not worthy of weekly attendance. In essence, we are saying thank you for the invite to the Lord, but please excuse me because I have more important things to do with people I prefer to live with.

But even with the regular attendees where Church is not optional, it seems to be conditional. We attend as long as Church is free and doesn't cost us anything personal. But as soon as the request for personal service and time plus offerings is mentioned, there is no budget for such a thing. I call this the not budging and no budget Christian. This crowd, and it is a crowd, not a minority, shows up to Church but is not dressed to serve Christ and His body. Soon, this group of believers will be cast out with the 'church is optional' group into outer darkness with the unbelievers because they are not dressed to serve. These are not my words. Jesus said it.

If the Church is no longer optional or conditional to you, and you are dressed to serve Christ and His body, then we must find out what the Church is.

In short, the Church consists of the Body of Christ, Elders, and Leaders gathering at regular intervals. In the Old Testament, it was on the Sabbath at the local synagogue. In the New Testament, it is on the day of the Lord, Sunday. Sunday is not mandatory in scripture, but forsaken assembly all together is. Meeting once a week is minimal. As the days grew evil, the early Church met daily to encourage one another to stay away from the deceitfulness of sin. In free nations, the Church is public. In persecuted nations, the churches are in homes, rotating times and locations shared with the nonoptional and nonconditional Christians.

How often a week do we assemble as the body of Christ? It is a local decision. But home alone Christianity, is not the Church. Where is the body if we are home alone? Church online is neither assembled nor local.

Okay, I get it. The Church is not a building. But two or three believers getting together to chat over coffee is not the Church either. Where are the elders? Where are the leaders that Jesus gave the Church? Not everyone is an eye or an ear, but everyone belongs in the body somewhere. Most should not be teachers, as there is greater condemnation for coming up short. We all belong in the body as the Lord sees fit. We are not our own if Jesus is our Lord.

The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, and it hasn't in nearly two thousand years. The Church hasn't always represented Jesus in the most favorable light and has received chastisements over the centuries by God's other servant, the government. But hell has not and will not prevail against the Church. But no such promise is given to the 'Home Alone' Christian.

Does this mean you are lost if you do not regularly assemble with a local body of believers? Maybe or maybe not. God knows. I can't say. A biblical proverb of wisdom is not to answer a fool to his folly. So, I will answer wisely: leaving the ninety-nine to go off alone is foolish. Jesus will pursue you for a time. But if you opt-out altogether and forsaken the assembly of believers, you are not in line with Jesus's folds. You are disobedient. You may need to leave one unhealthy flock for a healthier one. But to love God is to love His disciples as well. Jesus is returning for a glorious church that has matured enough to know when and how to rebuke one another in love and wash each other's feet, forgiving one another's sins. Don't be 'Home Alone' this coming year when a body of believers needs you, and you need us.

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