Getting grounded in the local church is important. Really, it is. Over the years I have seen something of a pattern with college students. The students who have gotten involved in church, built relationships, and become part of the life of a local body tend to graduate from college and go on to become a significant part of a church wherever they go. On the other hand, those who float in and out of church, or don't become involved at all, tend to graduate and never know how to become a part of a local church. There is, of course, exceptions to this. It has just been my observation that this is the general trend with students. Even those who are fully engaged in a ministry on campus, but not in the church, tend to tank after graduation. The reason is simply because there is no campus ministry after college life.
If that were the only reason to become involved in church, it ought to be compelling enough, but there is a more biblical reason to enter into the life of the local church: it has been established by God to be the continuing presence of Jesus in the world. The Church is ordained and instituted to be a community of redeemed people who celebrate the hospitality of God in the gospel, extend the grace of God's forgiveness through the fellowship of communion, confess their sins to each other, and share in life together as salt and light in the world. Through the preaching of the gospel and the sacraments, God's forgiveness and reconciliation become actualized in our lives. That is, the Church is God's, and it is his means of transforming people and using them to penetrate the world in love and grace.
It would be good, then, to ponder the reality that the Church of Jesus Christ is not optional equipment for the Christian. The Church has been blessed by God to be a blessing. This is a teaching that has been handed down to us from the apostles, throughout church history, and needs to be recognized and recovered by us. Cyril of Jerusalem, a distinguished scholar and church father from the 4th century, said we should take note of the Church because it extends over all the earth. "It teaches universally and without omission all the doctrines which ought to come to man's knowledge... and it brings under the sway of true religion all classes of men, rulers and subjects, learned and ignorant; it universally treats and cures every type of sin, committed by means of body and soul, and possesses in itself every kind of virtue which can be named, in deeds and words, and spiritual gifts of every kind."
See you Sunday!