We seem to be in a time when so many people of all ages have stopped attending main-line church services, claiming to be spiritual, but not religious.
Lillian Daniel, in her latest book When Spiritual But Not Religious is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church, makes clear the difference. As Senior Pastor of First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, Ill., she makes some wonderful observations of people who have stepped away from church in favor of nature worship, or beach walks, the Sunday paper, or private meditation. But she goes on to point out that without the church, the hungry don't get fed, the homeless don't find shelter, and the world doesn't feel the effects of infinite Love.
The Church, as a community of believers has enlisted to change the world, to enable others to reach the "new heaven and new earth" promised in the Bible. What takes place when "two or three are gathered together in my name" (Matthew l8:20) is profound.
Christian Scientists, for example, meet on Wednesday evenings for testimony meetings, where individuals have the opportunity to share how God's love has strengthened and healed them. Such sharing brings God close and palpable, and lights the way for those who are in need of comfort and encouragement.
The community of believers we call CHURCH is so much more than a social organization. It is intended to bring the living Christ into lives filled with fear, sorrow, or loneliness; to take on Jesus' yoke; to care for the helpless and all those floundering without a foundation on which to lean; to bring tangible awareness of Love's presence and authorit, which can be the answer to prayer.
To quote Mary Baker Eddy in her seminal work Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfills the Scripture, 'Love they neighbor as thyself'; annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed."