When we see trees growing in a forest, we usually think each one is separate and independent from the others. But foresters find that often trees are joined at the roots. An unknown fungus links them together; it even links different kinds of tree roots together. These linked roots supply each other with water, sunlight, and nutrients. This illustrates God’s design for the local church of believers. Knowing that sooner or later we all suffer from spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical ailments, God used James to remind us of how the church functions to assist us. He writes in James 5: “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” The church is a place to teach the truths of God, a place to collectively express our thanksgiving and worship God, a place to share our stories of hurt and healing, a place to use our abilities to help others. God designed the church to nurture His people toward wholeness; it’s God’s agent for sharing the Good News of His love and forgiveness for the whole world. The local church has its critics, but since Jesus said even the powers of hell cannot destroy it, we should support it.
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