We go through periods where we ignore or resent the church; then we go to the extreme of virtually worshipping the church. We want to come to terms with the role of the church, its importance in our lives, some major reasons for its effectiveness, and why Christ established it in the first place.
In Israel's northern city of Caesarea Philippi, among the ruins of a worship centre dedicated to the Greek god Pan, a cave exists that was long believed by those who worshipped there to be the doorway into the netherworld. It was in the vicinity of this grotto, the alleged gateway to hell, that Jesus promised: "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18).
From Pentecost in the first century to the present day, Satan has attempted to destroy Christ's Church—yet it endures. From a small group of Jewish outsiders in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, Christ built His Church to reach even the remotest parts of the world. Despite controversies, wars, and denominational splits, the Church continues to be the means through which God announces to a dark and dying world that light and life have come in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
For these reasons, and many more, we learn about and appreciate the body of Christ, the Church.
If Jesus is doing what He said, why do we bash ourselves—His bride, His church? Why do we sing songs, write books, and preach sermons that attack His beloved and then think He is pleased that we do so? I know I wouldn’t be pleased if someone slandered my fiancé.
It would have been so nice to move to a new city and only need to consult my handy “How to Find a Church in Six Simple Steps” brochure in order to make my decision.
The church is made up of diverse volunteers with strong beliefs who come together and seek to bring about change. As such, it is an environment ripe for conflict. Wherever there are different perspectives there is potential conflict.
I can think of few examples of resilience as incredible as the first-century church. Consider the circumstances in which that body of believers existed. Leaders and preachers were imprisoned daily. Members were threatened with violence or worse.
When it comes to caring for widows, it’s easy to be pulled by emotions into unwise decisions. That’s why Paul’s instructions are so helpful. And so are his practical reminders.
Being involved in church, volunteering your skills, and helping others however you can aren’t actions specially set aside for the chosen few or the super religious. This is a calling for each of us and if we think we can strike out on our own, or just show up for nourishment but give nothing back to the body, we are missing the point.
Chuck warns that controlling and comparing other Christians in our churches or in groups of friends does not make you spiritual, and it will not draw people closer to Christ. Actually, it will drive them away from you, from church, and from anything to do with other Christians.
Are you in the process of looking for a church? That can be a challenge, can't it? Many of us tend to lean on four factors in making our choice: denomination, music style, size, and location. But these alone can't tell you the most important thing: is the church healthy?
I remember Mom crying a lot and Dad reminding, “Don't forget where you come from son and don't forget to call.” He told me that they would always love me and trust me to be faithful to God now that I'm away from home. That was big news and yet, I can't honestly say I knew what he meant.