Who Are You Talking About?
January 20, 2023
He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:16 NLT
Ever heard anyone criticize the Church? That’s big C Church, as in the unseen Church that is comprised of all believers. Of course you have. You have criticized it too. “The Church today is so….” Over the last decade many have left the Church in droves, saying, “I can’t do Church anymore. I am still a Jesus follower, a Christian, but I’m done with the Church. I’m out.”
Did you know anyone who says or does that just described and attempted an impossibility? If you are a Jesus follower, you are inescapably part of the Church. God describes us as a body. No matter how much my head dislikes my painful knee, it can’t decide to run off and leave my knee. The only way my head can survive is to remain connected with the rest of my body. My face can look at my knee and be disgusted with its arthritis and tendency to swell, but we’re irreversibly connected unless there is to be deformity, lowered capacity, and even death.
You can leave a church as in little c church, a local gathering of believers, but you are still a part of the big C Church, and your attitude, speech, behavior toward little c church impacts your influence for the big C Church. Why and how is that? That’s because YOU are the Church. When you talk of the Church it should always be “we” if you truly are a part of Christ’s body. When you denigrate the Church, you are speaking of yourself. You and I are very foolish if we think we can speak disparagingly or act with disregard toward the Church and exclude ourselves. We are inescapably part of the problem and part of the solution. WE are the church.
As a pastor for decades, I learned to be very wary of people who told me on their first visit to our services, “You are just what we’ve been looking for! We have been in dozens of churches and have not been able to find a church that meets our needs, but we think this is it!”
I learned to respond with some version of, “Well, thank you. This is a great place filled with many good people following Jesus. There are wonderful churches in our area, and I hope you’ll find a place you can help get better and better, whether it is ours or not.” I knew that it likely wouldn’t be too long until the sheen was off from our first impression, too, and they would be telling another pastor about the deplorable situation of “church” in our area. I rarely was wrong.
Church is not a place. It’s a people. God’s plan is that we remember WE are the Church. Its strength and its flaws are ours, not “theirs.” The Church and the church will only be healthy and growing and full of love as Paul prayed when you and I are that.
- Jesus, You died for Your Church. You gave us power to be Your Church. Help me love the Church as you do and be a healthy, growing, loving part of it.