Monday, August 25, 2008

Do you love the church?

Oh, how I love the church! Sure, it's full of sinful people (of whom I am the chief offender!). But it's also the beautiful Bride of Christ, full of people who were bought by His precious blood. There's no greater honor than serving the Lord by loving the church and shepherding His people.

Most Americans (including many professing Christians) have rejected "organized religion" in favor of a more private and personal spiritual journey. To many, the church has become optional at best, and irrelevant or even reviled at worst. Janie B. Cheaney responds by asking:
What exactly is "organized religion," except code words for Christ's own church? In the world's eyes, she's aging ungracefully: an overdressed dowager with a checkered past, who divides her time between ghastly potluck dinners and awkwardly meddling in people's private affairs.

When he first came to faith through an enchanted forest of imagination, C.S. Lewis saw the church as a "fussy, time-wasting botheration": "the bells, the crowds, the umbrellas, the notices, the bustle, the perpetual arranging and organizing." Over time, he probably saw her differently; it's certain that Christ does, as a radiant bride adorned for her husband, ordained by the One who calls things that are not as though they were.

...To those who claim to follow Jesus yet remain outside His church, one question: How can you love Christ and despise His body?
If you struggle to love the church; if you find yourself irritated with her; or if you are tempted to give up on her altogether, let me encourage you to meditate on these verses, and cultivate your affections for the church:

Matthew 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

Hebrews 10:24-25 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Photo credit: KellyB

2 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, what a breath of fresh air! Brother, I am so blessed by your words today and thankful for your love of the church.

    I am weary of the church getting blamed, accused and mistreated by none other than those who should love her most. Thank you for honoring that which Christ died for!

    You are so right, "organized religion" is simply code word for God's church. I have no problem with organized religion if God is doing the organizing.

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  2. Guess what? I read your post earlier in the day so I had this fresh on my mind and then tonight at work I was able to talk about this very subject with one of my clients! This client has this very mindset you were talking about and it was a very fruitful conversation. Thanks for posting!

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