See something wrong with this sign?
What would fix it?
Why, it needs ‘U’, of course!
OK, that’s a corny old joke, but theologically speaking, it’s very sound. You see, the Church as God sees it is not constructed of bricks and mortar but is always a gathering of people. And that makes ‘U’ immensely important!
Jesus famously said: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) Now, it would be incorrect to infer from this that Jesus is indifferent to individuals (in fact shortly before this verse, Jesus talks about how a good shepherd agonizes over the one sheep in the flock who has gotten lost). Rather, this verse is part of a discourse on how Jesus empowers the Church to act on His behalf – and that requires a plurality of individuals. The Church can’t be His Church without ‘U.’
Saint Paul describes the Church as “the body of Christ” and just as each body part performs an essential function, so each individual is essential to Him (1 Corinthians 12). The Church can’t live out its mission without ‘U’ and the gifts He has entrusted: your time, talents, and treasure.
But perhaps the greatest importance of ‘U’ to the Church is simply your presence. It’s been said that no one can remain a Christian for very long in isolation – we need each other! You know that being a true disciple of Jesus can be a scary business! It means putting Jesus ahead of other things and trusting that He will deliver on His promises. Now there may be those rugged individualists (fanatics?) in this world who are comfortable defying everyone else’s opinions, but most of us aren’t like that – we get uncomfortable and doubtful when we find ourselves standing all alone. That’s why one of the most important aspects of worship is, not the sermon, not the hymns, not even the prayers, but simply the gathering of a community of fellow believers around Jesus. We can’t see Jesus present in our midst, but we CAN see the fellow members of His body. From that alone we derive strength and assurance to carry us through the week – and others are strengthened by our presence. Just by being there, ‘U’ minister to your fellow believers.
We live in a consumer society. We take it as our right to choose the products and services that meet our needs, and to decide when and how to use them – after all, we bought these things, didn’t we? But that doesn’t apply to the Church. You are part of the Church because Jesus bought YOU! When we absent ourselves from the community of fellow believers, it doesn’t affect only ourselves, but it weakens the body of Christ. ‘U’ were bought for His service!
“I believe that Jesus Christ … has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, in order that I may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.” (Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Explanation of the 2nd article of the Apostle’s Creed)