…to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus… (v. 21)
As a pastor I hear the question fairly often: “Why do Christians need to go church?” Sometimes the questioner is a young child wanting to get out of his boredom on Sunday morning. Other times the questioner sincerely wonders why we must be a part of a church if we can have a relationship with God anywhere, anytime. Most often, the questioner is an adult hoping to be “spiritual but not religious.”
The local church is the hope of the world. Unless we are physically unable, every Christian should be a part of a church. The church is where Christ gets glory (Eph. 3:21) and where we (not just I) shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15). The New Testament assumes that believers belong, not just to the church universal, but to a specific community of Christians. That’s why Paul wrote nine of his thirteen letters to churches and why each church in Revelation is represented by an individual lampstand. God’s plan has always been to establish a people, not simply a loose assortment of individuals.
It’s through the preaching of the word, the giving of gifts, the building up of the body, the loving of the unlovely–all in the context of the local church–that Christ gets glory.