Est. 33AD Part 1: The Church is a Gift
I love the Church. I used a capitol “C” not because I was referring to a specific local group of Christians who gather together to praise God, but because I wanted to reference all the Christians all over the world, who have ever lived or will ever live. But, even if I was referring to a local collection of Christians, I could have said the same thing. I love Christians and I love the groups they assemble in. Sadly, it wasn’t always that way for me.
Don’t confuse my story with your own or that of someone you know. I’ve never been jaded by the church. It’s never been so repulsive to me that “I could barely pass by one without throwing up” (a direct quote from someone I know). I have been a part of several churches and, for the most part, I thought they were fine. I just never loved them. I had to be taught how to do that.
The fact that I love the church often makes it difficult for me to talk with people my age about the church. Overwhelming, they are critical and despondent when the subject of “church” is brought up. I hear descriptions like out of touch, boring, dogmatic, unbiblical, bureaucratic, religious, and perhaps the worst, something Jesus never would have associated with. To all those descriptors except the last, I would have to agree (at times).
The reason I have come to love the church is not because I found one that fit my preferences, was entertaining, or met felt needs. I love the church because Jesus did and He taught me how to love it too. Without going into many details, I was taught how to love the church through conviction, compassion, and a deep love for biblical truth. To put it differently, I began to read what God wrote about His church and it occurred to me that if I really loved God AND the people He created, I should love the church. Because it is what God created FOR the people He created.
Look at what it says in Ephesians 3:9-11, “And to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In case you didn’t catch it, this is what it says. It says that God is doing His most important work on earth in and through the church. It says that angels and all those who live in Heaven are given a greater ability to worship God because they see what He is doing with the church. It says that God’s work in the gospel (the good news of salvation from the deadly effects of personal and universal sin) is being worked out in the lives of people through the church in such a powerful way that the universe is being turned upside down. If you truly love the things of God, it should be your joy to love His Church.
In Part 2 of the Est. 33AD series, I will discuss how I was convicted and how that conviction turned into love and compassion for the church.