How often have you heard someone justify their worldly ways by claiming the Church is evil and they maintain their spiritual life on their own? While this may be possible (in some extreme circumstance) it is highly unlikely.
In scripture, the church is referred to as Sheep and God has chosen these references very carefully. Consider the symbolism. Sheep are communal creatures and congregate in flocks. Sheep are never alone by their own choosing. They prefer the safety of a group and to associate with their own kind. A sheep that wanders away from the flock in search of food becomes vulnerable to predators. In fact, a predator will try to cut a sheep out of the flock before devouring it.
Believers are also not meant to survive alone. We are meant to congregate together and to support and edify one another. When a believer becomes separated from the flock it allows the enemy the opportunity to challenge his or her faith. In time the majority of lone Believers will succumb to the ways of the flesh and distance themselves from God.
The primary reason people begin to move away from the church is to avoid confronting some sort of temptation. They find themselves angry with the church or uncomfortable around other believers. This is a good time for them to do a self inventory.
Scripture records that Jesus was tempted in every way, but was without sin. Scripture also promises that God will provide a way out of temptation, but that way out may not be apparent to someone trying to face it alone. Even if a believer has have fallen to temptation God is merciful and provides forgiveness. (I assure you I have done much worse than any who could be reading this. If God can forgive me and use me to advance His Kingdom he can use anyone.)
No believer has to face the world alone. Their is a large family of believers in the church who will support and welcome them. If you know someone who is trying to do it alone take some time and ask God to provide the opportunity to invite them back into the fold. No sheep should ever be alone!
Rev Jim Disbrow
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