You Don't Have To Go It Alone
“I believe in the…holy Christian Church,” – The Apostles’ Creed
Are you a part of a church congregation?
I remember when I was growing up occasionally hearing people use the phrase, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” It’s a strange phrase in today’s society, as we have lost the context of the idiom.
Why are people throwing out bathwater?
How are they accidentally (or purposely) throwing the baby out with it?
I finally looked it up one day and found someone claiming the phrase came from the bathing habits in the 1500s where a whole family would use the same bathwater to bathe from oldest to youngest. Thus, by the time the baby was washed, the water would be so murky you couldn’t see the baby was still in the water and could accidentally throw the baby out with the bathwater.
This brought up several more questions/thoughts in my mind, like,
“Wait, is the baby underwater?!!”
“Ugh!! Gross!!! Who wants to bathe in water used by several other people?”
Thankfully, it turns out that isn’t actually the origin of the phrase. It came from a German book of proverbs called “Narrenbeschwörung” (Appeal to Fools) by Thomas Murner. The phrase quickly caught on and was even used by Martin Luther.
The lesson of the phrase is that while we should discard the useless and filthy, we shouldn’t throw out what is valuable with it.
“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:22-25
In the past few decades, church has become somewhat unpopular a concept. This is not true just among non-Christians, but among Christians as well. They site the mindless religious acts of some or the corruption of certain church leaders and decide to throw the whole thing out.
“I have my personal faith, I don’t need the church.” some may say.
That, however, isn’t true. This is a case of throwing out the baby (the valuable church) with the bathwater (the corruption and empty religion).
Flawed, but Holy and Needed
It is true that the church has its issues. It makes sense, though. After all, it is filled with flawed and corrupt sinner people. We are selfish and greedy. We gossip and slander. We lust and steal and covet. When we gather with other believers, that behavior comes too.
However, our sinfulness is also why we need the church. We need each other’s encouragement. We need others to correct us when we go astray. We need to comfort each other. We need to hear the forgiveness of Jesus from each other. We need the church.
The church is not just some human institution like the rotary club.
It was created by God and Jesus is its head. God gave us the church because this life of faith can be hard and full of suffering.
Jesus told us that He would be there with us in the church. “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there.” (Matthew 18:20) He comes to us in the Word and sacraments He gave the church.
The church is precious and valuable. It is here so you don’t have to go it alone. You can walk with others who strengthen you.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12
Together we are the body of Christ, designed to work together to the glory of God.
So, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Instead, let’s cherish the church and the blessings God gives us through His church. Let’s discard the corruption and empty religion and walk together in the faith, encouraging and admonishing one another, and forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us.
Thank you for Your church. Thank you for the Christian brothers and sisters you have placed in my life to encourage and strengthen me and even correct and forgive me. Help me to value the church and be that encouragement to others.
In Christ’s Service,