Why Church is important: Church was God’s idea, and as such, it helps us pursue godliness and prioritize him. It’s because of the Church that we learn the truth about God and join together to disciple others to come to know him as well. It can be easy for people to assume that, as long as they have a relationship with God, it isn’t important to connect with the church. This article explores 2 Timothy 2:22-27 and asks what these verses teach about why church is important.
Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22-27:
“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” (2 Tim. 2:22-27, NLT)
Traditionally, 2 Timothy is thought to be the last letter that Paul wrote. Now, Paul takes a singular position in my mind as perhaps one of the godliest men to ever live. Evident throughout his life was a firm reverence for Scripture and a zeal for the sanctity of faith. Following his encounter with Jesus, Paul’s life reflects a deep love for all people, highlighted by his missional mindset to take the gospel to any and everyone, no matter the cost. To Paul, only the things of God seemed to matter, and his life was infused with the power of the Living God. If there’s any mere mortal who appears to grasp the love, power, and peace of Jesus Christ, it is surely Paul.
So if Paul composed, through the Holy Spirit, a final letter that encompasses all his ministerial experiences and insights, then I’m inclined to pay attention to it. So then, what should we do with this section of text? What exactly is Paul telling Timothy? What is Paul advocating?
Paul is advocating for the body of Christ; Paul is advocating for the church.
Why Church is important: “Paul is advocating for the body of Christ; Paul is advocating for the church.”
Here are 5 reasons from this passage why church is worth our time and effort.
What It Produces
“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts.”
To reiterate an important concept, no, the church is not a place; it’s not four walls and a stage. The church is a community of believers, a “companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (verse 22). So, why is the church important? Why does Paul encourage Timothy to be joined with other believers?
Again, Paul wrote,
“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”
The church is good because it pushes us to pursue godliness.
Why Church is important: “The church is good because it pushes us to pursue godliness.”
Maybe you’ve heard the concept that if you’re not getting stronger, you’re getting weaker. As with much of the wisdom from the world, this phrase has a biblical precedent, biblical roots. If you’re not drawing closer to God, what are you doing? Frankly, I think you’re probably doing something wrong. When 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us to do everything for the glory of God, it speaks to a high level of intentionality, a mindset, a lifestyle that pursues God as the number one thing in your life. It demonstrates a life lens that filters everything through the question, “Does this draw me closer to God or take me further away from him?”
Our actions have eternal implications. We will have to give an account for what we say and do (Matt. 12:36, Ecc. 12:14). The goal here isn’t to guilt or scare you into being part of the community of Jesus. The question you have to ask though is, “What matters more?” If the things of God matter to you more than anything else, then your life will reflect that.
Whom It Follows
“Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”
To give a candid illustration, there are a lot of places you could be or people you could be with on a Sunday morning or Sunday night. For a couple thousand years, huge numbers of people have recognized Sunday as a day when men and women give glory to God and encourage one another in faith, peace, and love. It is a good thing. It was a day set aside for us to remember the things that matter most, to draw close to God. The church promotes this idea every time it gets together; it is a good thing to be part of.
So as Paul tells Timothy to flee from the things of this world and pursue righteousness, we have to ask ourselves where we get those things from; what is our source? We all have a source. And the church is a good source because God is its source.
Why Church is important: “The church is a good source because God is its source.”
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all followers, and we all follow people. Whether it’s through the shows we watch, the podcasts we listen to, the sports teams we cheer for, the friends we hang around, or the ideas we build our life upon, all those things come from somewhere, and they are influenced by people. And to make matters simple, there are two forces at work in the world. There’s God, and there’s Satan. Which one are you following?
In a body of believers, people are devoted to prayer, to Scripture, and to God’s will. Where do those things come from? What do they produce? Whom are the believers following?
Sleeping in after spending Saturday night in a bar, what are people devoted to?
I recognize it’s dangerous to issue sweeping generalizations, and I understand the need for nuance. God works powerfully in all places. Jesus ate with sinners. God created this world and everything in it. He has given us strength, dignity, and choice. He has given us life, and he commanded us to fill the earth and subdue it. All of these things are true and should affect our decisions. But you need to ask the question: Is this action pulling me closer to God or further away from him?
“Is this action pulling me closer to God or further away from him?”
Do you live with that intentionality? Do you put yourself in situations that help you pursue righteousness?
I’m sure we can all rationalize spending Sunday morning doing some other important thing, but the danger is that we often do so at the expense of spending crucial time with believers seeking the face of God. Again, our actions can be strong indicators of whom/what we follow.
So to answer why the church is good, we simply have to look at what it produces, whom it follows.
The church facilitates spiritual growth, and it follows God.
No, the church isn’t always perfect, but enough of that tired, old excuse. The purpose of the church is to draw us closer to God. If you go into the church thinking about the other people, you’ve already missed the point and the opportunity, the opportunity to be drawn into the presence of God, to seek his Sovereign will and presence.
Why Church is important: “The purpose of the church is to draw us closer to God.”
The church is good because it doesn’t promote youthful lust; it actively seeks to hold you accountable to God’s righteous standard. It pushes people to greater faith and good deeds. The church is an extension of God’s movements and will on the earth. It seeks his face, and it institutes the things that God puts on its heart. The church is good because it is from God, built around God, and God is good.
Paul encourages Timothy to pursue good. He encourages Timothy to be involved in a body of believers, those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
What It Elevates
“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone.”
The church is good because it elevates people’s conversations and goals to eternal things.
There are so many worldly disagreements that can destroy relationships. In our world that is polarized by politics, it’s easy to create dissension when we take the focus off of God.
Paul beseeches Timothy: don’t be part of the problem. Instead, believers can be part of the solution, an eternal one. When believers have a conversation, they point people to Jesus.
The church is good because it brings people together to talk about God. God heals relationships; God sustains relationships; God creates new relationships. The body of Christ is effective because it’s centered on Jesus Christ. Every other entity will fade. We can spend all our time at chess clubs, concert halls, sporting venues, strip malls, and Netflix binging, but nothing else has a singular purpose like the church.
The church unites people and creates a spiritual bond and understanding that can cover over our multitude of differences, our sins, our disagreements. Christ is the only bond that is strong enough to endure and reconcile. The body of Christ is the strongest congregation in the world when it focuses on Jesus.
Why Church is important: “The church unites people and creates a spiritual bond and understanding that can cover over our multitude of differences, our sins, our disagreements.”
The church is good because it promotes spiritual over physical, eternal over temporal, and Christ over everything. The church is good because Christ is the standard; we don’t get to argue right or wrong for ourselves. God sets the standards, and we follow. This prevents needless division and strife, and it produces wholeness and goodness.
What It Teaches
“They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth.”
The church is good because it teaches us about God. The Bible isn’t always the easiest thing to understand, and that often becomes an excuse for us to not talk about God. We don’t have all the answers, and if we’re honest, a lot of us still have questions.
What better place to learn about God than a place devoted to God? The church actively pursues God, and it pushes you to do the same. The church focuses on God instead of the things of this world. When God is the focus, things might be a little clearer for everyone.
Why Church is important: “The church actively pursues God, and it pushes you to do the same.”
Sure, you could go to the library to learn about God; you could ask your schoolteacher; you could ask Google, but a remarkable element of the church is that it holds Jesus as the standard. When Jesus is the standard, we don’t pick one person or idea over another; we pick Jesus. And when we don’t, we have a multitude of people actively seeking the face of God who can call us out for pushing Jesus off the pedestal. There’s an accountability in teaching that happens in the church because God designed us to sharpen one another, to push one another to love and good works.
And in the church, we’re not just accountable for what we teach, but also how we teach it. Jesus spoke in truth and love. When the church bludgeons people over the head with the truth, we know that isn’t right. When the church warmly holds people in their sins, we know there’s something missing. The church facilitates teaching in the right way. When a group of believers holds us accountable to what we say and how we say it, it produces right teaching. It produces a pursuit of godliness, and it holds us to his standards, not our own.
God is the truth, and God is good. The church doesn’t let people forget that.
What It Fuels
“Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.”
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the church is good because it was instituted by God to share the Good News about Jesus, and he will always be with his church.
Looking back at the Great Commission in Matthew 28, we see how Jesus looked at the body of believers, and he told them to go and make disciples. He told them to change people’s lives from sin to purity, to renew people’s lives through the power of Christ, and to teach people to obey God. Then Jesus promised to always be with them, to preside over their hearts, to love his bride: the church.
God is always faithful to his promises. He is with the church today. The church is good because it is the bride of Christ; it has God at its side, and it will not be overcome (Matt. 16:18).
Why Church is important: “The church is good because it is the bride of Christ.”
And the church is good because it has the blessing and mission from God himself. No other corporate body on earth shares the blessings of the body of Christ. It is set apart to spread the gospel. It is equipped and empowered to endure anything that the world throws at it. It can attain the full measure of Christ through the unity of faith in believers (Eph. 4:13). It displays the Kingdom of God on earth.
The church is good because, through the blood of Christ, it can bring the lost sheep back into the fold; it can restore the broken; it can be used by God to save the eternal souls of mankind. The church is good because it reflects the heart of God: to seek and save that which was lost.
The church is good because it is God’s.
It is the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
So as Paul earnestly asks Timothy, I similarly ask you to be part of the church and invest in the Kingdom of God. The church is good not because of what we do but because of what God has done and will continue to do through it. Even to the end of the age.