In the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, George Bailey was asked to imagine a world where he hadn’t been born. What he discovered when he visited that world startled him. He learned that his life mattered a great deal more than he ever realized. His presence seemed to give off an invisible vapor trail of grace, and when his life intersected with another, that life was altered and affected in some small way for the better.

Looking at it from day to day, his influence was scarcely detectable. Why, George Bailey couldn’t see it at all. But seen over the course of a lifetime, his impact on others was astounding.

Imagine for a moment a world where the church did not exist. Picture in your mind driving into a community where no church steeples poked through the horizon. Where there were no “Church Streets”. You’d hear no bells chiming out at noon. There’d be no sacred hush on Sunday morning, as life came to a brief, worshipful rest. All of that gone.

What difference do you think that would make? Maybe day to day, it wouldn’t be missed at all.  Some might even say, “Good riddance,” in light of all the recent scandals shaking some churches and pastors.

But I’d be willing to bet that if you erased the church from society, that you’d find in the end a lot more hurt, a lot more emptiness, and a lot more darkness than before. (Look at your own life. What do you think it would be like if you took away the church altogether? Would you end up a better person for it?)

If you erased the church from society, you’d find in the end a lot more hurt, a lot more emptiness, and a lot more darkness than before.

The most rugged individualists among us need community. Eric Rudolph, a man responsible for a number of bombings (including the bombing at the 1996 Olympics) hid in the wilderness of North Carolina as a fugitive of the law for five years. Myths began to spring up about him. He was looked on by some as a sort of folk hero, a Daniel Boone lookalike, living off the land, while on the lam. But where did they catch him in the end? Foraging through a dumpster in a Walmart parking lot. Even he needed the support that a community provided.

What’s astonishing is that this need for community we have is a reflection of God’s own nature. We are, after all, created in the image of God, the Bible says. And what do we know about God’s nature? God is a triune being revealed to us as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Meaning within his very nature, God is relational.

Therefore, we who were created in his image are also relational. We were made to be part of a family. Which is why God brought into existence a beautiful family called “the church”.

Jesus saves us one by one, but he never leaves us alone. Remind yourself today why being a member of a healthy, local church family is so vital. Never doubt again that the church is one of God’s greatest gifts to you.


Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: and his writing website: Bear is the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.