Danger 3: I can pray on my own. Click here for part 2.
Those who leave churches do not all quit on God Himself. However some do resort to live their spiritual lives on their own from that point on. Reasons for it vary. Just knowing that abuses do occur in church circles is one of them. Another is simply the belief that there is really no need to be part of a group in order to develop an intimate relationship with God. And indeed, this decision – to develop our spiritual life alone – is becoming increasingly popular. And given the state of churches in these days, one can certainly understand why.
What, therefore, could be possibly dangerous here, since this decision is a clear proclamation of a strong desire to protect ones’ relationship with God? The danger is that by making such a decision, one could be quitting on the body of Christ itself, of which they are actually a member.
1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-18 – For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ…For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
1 Corinthians 12:19, 20 – …But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
While we can easily accept that giving up on God should not be an option, it can be very difficult to see resorting to live our spiritual lives on our own as anything even remotely dangerous. Yet, it is clear from the passage above that God never designed us to be on our own. We are part of one and the same body, and whether we acknowledge it or not, the truth is that we are part of that body and we need each other. The implication of this truth is that as members we are supposed to – on one hand – supply certain things to other members for their proper functioning, and – on the other – receive other things from other members for our proper functioning. Just look at how God describes how interlinked we are with each other…
1 Corinthians 12:26, 27 – And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Imagine breaking one of your little toes…can you imagine the pain? Not only does the whole body feel the pain, but the whole body suffers in its functioning because it needs that toe to be at its best so that the body can walk or run as it is supposed to. That is how important that little toe is. That is your importance in the body!
No matter where you are, the body needs you to function properly; it needs your energy, your spiritual talents, your love for God and your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ. And likewise, you need the body to function effectively! When we resort to be on our own, we effectively forfeit our role in the body of Christ, by shutting down both the opportunities to give to its other members and the opportunities to receive from them.
Is the suggestion made here not to leave your church group, no matter the circumstances? NO. We may well have very compelling reasons for taking such decision. However, it is critical not confuse our church group (if we are part of one) for the body of Christ. The church group is not the body of Christ, but its members are some of our fellow members in the body Christ. If leaving, we should ask God to put us in a position or place where we can still receive and still give, and perhaps even more so than we have ever had. The same holds true for one who has never been affiliated to a church group.
It may sound praiseworthy, but living your spiritual life on your own, in your little corner, is a real danger to the very spiritual life you are trying to nurture. You are a member of the body, and that body needs you, that is a fact! Quit on your church if you have good reasons to, but do not quit on Christ. Rise to your place within the body, seek every opportunity to give, and look for ways to receive. And the very spiritual life you are trying to nurture will blossom to levels you can only dream of.