(read part 1 here)
Why is it we feel disconnected when regular church attendance slips away?
Jesus gave us a great tip on connection:
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
The phrase in verse, “if anyone does not remain in me, his like a branch that is thrown away and withers;”, has a key to spiritual health. When we don’t remain in Christ we wither spiritually. I believe that part of the “disconnect” when we drop out of faithful church attendance comes from a withering. “Andy, Jesus is talking about remaining in him, not the church.” True.
BUT consider this verse:
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12
We are the body of Christ. Are we remaining in him when we remove ourselves from the body by cutting off fellowship and worship and ministry with the church? No. Then we wither. We are more than a family of believers, we are the body of Christ.
There are many things I can do to “wither” spiritually. This doesn’t mean I lose my salvation, relationship with God through Jesus. It does mean that I will cease to produce fruit for Christ.
Withering can come from: (not a comprehensive list)
lack of time spend in Bible study
failing to have an active prayer life
failing to seize opportunities to share my faith
direct disobedience to God and His Word
slacking off in my connection and commitment to the body of Christ, the church and other believers.