Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The Church is something much more important and powerful than a building. The Church is made up of those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and who, through faith, have been saved.
The Church is as exclusive and privileged a group as you will ever see or experience because, biblically speaking, the church is ONLY made up of those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. The Church is the Church because everyone who is saved has a common faith, a common salvation and The Holy Spirit dwelling within them and the only way to become a member is to die to yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus.
The Church is exclusive. It is alive and you, if you are a believer and follower of Christ, are a member. If you want to grow in Christ and truly find your purpose in life, it will involve the church. So whatever hangups you may have regarding "organized religion" you need to understand that they are just that, your own hangups.
God is pro-Church and so must be his followers.
Is the church perfect? No, because it isn't God. It is God's people. A people who needed and still need Jesus Christ to forgive them of sins and teach them how to live in love, righteousness, and holiness. So while it is trendy right now to bash the Church and spell out all the ways it is wrong and hypocritical it is how God has chosen to work. Like it or not, you are not going to create or find anything more powerful on earth than God's people serving Him in fellowship with each other.
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
"The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Against It"
Powerful words. Jesus said that Hell itself, the full power of the enemy will not be able to hold back the church from doing what it is designed to do, namely, worship, fellowship, and make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is here to spread God's Kingdom and that is exactly what it has done for 2000 years. That is a track record of success that isn't going to stop anytime soon.
Notice also that Jesus said "my church." I think part of the reason people have hangups with "organized religion" is that they and many, many others come at the church as consumers, like somehow the church exists for them and their purposes. When we look at the church as consumers we will say things like "I want a church that meets my needs" or "I just need a church that is more contemporary or traditional, or rural, or country, or more music, or less music, or louder music, or red carpet, more young adults, or more youth, or a better senior adult program..." The list could go on forever. The problem surfaces when we realize that the church is not there for those purposes.
It isn't here for us, it is here to serve God's purposes in the world and YOU, as a believer, are a part of the labor crew that does God's work on earth. When we realize this one truth, our lives change. We start hearing from God, we start experiencing his Spirit in the Fellowship of Believers and we see the Church as the beautiful Bride of Christ. Instead of complaining about what the church isn't doing well we start doing our part to make it better.
We also realize just how powerful the church truly is. In Ephesians 3:10 the Apostle Paul says that is through the church that "the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." You see, God has chosen the church as his chief instrument on Earth. And YOU, as a believer, are a part of that instrument. God can and sometimes does work through individuals apart from the Church as a whole, but that is rare. Most of God's work is done through the Church.
So the choice is now yours. If you are a believer, you are a part of the Body of Christ. Are you helping or hurting the Body? There is no way around it and it is a truth that you must accept and embrace. You are a part of God's church on earth. What you do with it is up to you. If you want to be used of God, it will be in conjunction with the church. You want to hear from God? It will often come as a combination of the Scriptures and the Church.
We are called to community, but not just any community. The Community. The Church. The one and only Body of Christ. You have a function within that Body that is indispensable. In 1 Corinthians 12:14-20 says this: "For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body." (ESV)
Are you functioning as a member of the one body? Or are you expecting the body to function for you? Once we understand God's plan for the church and how truly awesome it is that God says his church "grows into a holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:18-22) we will fundamentally alter the way we look at the body of believers. Instead of God's presence being attached to a building as it was in the Old Testament Temple, today, the Temple is the Church and his presence is found among his people COLLECTIVELY. You will only find your purpose when you seek God in the midst of His People and Serve within His Church. Meditate upon this, embrace it and you will most certainly rise Above Reality.