I JOHN 5:1-5: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” NLT
OBSERVATION: What do you think about the church? Do you attend church regularly, or have you given up on the church altogether? Have you been hurt by the church? Can one simply believe in God and leave the church out of the picture? I want to take a few moments to address these questions and tell you…
WHY I LOVE THE CHURCH!
I will never forget my experience with the church growing up. We went to church every Sunday. I also went to a parochial school and attended chapel every Wednesday. My father loved the church. Me, not so much. As I grew up I witnessed examples of hypocrisy, gossip, and what I called the Sunday smile. When I became a teenager I did not want to have anything to do with the church.
I have met so many with a similar opinion of the church. When they look at the church, as an institution, all they can see are the failures of broken people. Like me, they use these failures as an excuse to dismiss the church. I used to say in my defense – “I believe in God, but I don’t need to go to church!” Many boldly claim that they are with God all the time and worship Him in the mountains, the golf course, or the beach.
WHO NEEDS THE CHURCH?!
The real answer is – WE ALL DO! If it wasn’t for the church I would never have discovered that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was a loving, healthy church, that modeled personal faith and invited me to be a part of God’s wonderful family. Something wonderful happened when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I began to see others through His eyes. I began to see that the church was not a building or an institution. The church was God’s family! John reminds us when he writes,
- “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too.”
There is an old Christian song by the group Love Song that became popular during the Jesus Movement. It was titled – “Little Country Church.” Here is an excerpt of this song.
They’re talkin’ ’bout revival and the need for love
That little church has come alive
Workin’ with each other for the common good
Puttin’ all the past aside
Long hair, short hair, some coats and ties
People finally comin’ around
Lookin’ past the hair and straight into the eyes
People finally comin’ around
And it¹s very plain to see
It’s not the way it used to be.
I grew up in a loving family. Yet, it was not a perfect family. There were times when my parents fought. There was the usual sibling rivalry. My dad worked too much and I never really had a relationship with him. If I wanted to make a list of everything that was wrong with my family I could make a long list. It would also include everything that was wrong with me. Yet, there was one thing that made our family a true family.
IT WAS LOVE!
When we look at the church we can look at it through our eyes of hurt, disappointment, and distrust – or we can see it as God sees it. When God looks at the church He sees children, teenagers, young adults, and adults who were lost in their sins but are now redeemed through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. He sees sheep that are in desperate need of a shepherd.
GOD SEES HIS FAMILY!
So here is the bottom line. I cannot love God if I don’t love His family. To dismiss the very people He died to redeem is to dismiss God. You cannot love God and hate the church. The church cost God everything!
- “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.” Acts of the Apostles 20:28 NLT
God purchased and redeemed us from our sin and adopted us into His family through His own blood! The Father gave His only begotten Son to die in our place. The church costs God everything! And, He continues to watch over the church as He prepares her to be His spotless bride!
- “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Ephesians 5:25-27 NLT
Will God succeed? Is the church still relevant today? Should I reexamine my opinion of the church in light of these truths? Rest assured, God only has one plan. His plan is to reach this broken world through His church. And, His plan will succeed!
- “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19 NLT
Finally, we cannot walk in victory in this life without the church. There are no Lone Rangers in the Kingdom of God. The Bible was not written to me as an individual (although it always speaks to me individually). The Bible was written to God’s people. The Bible was written for the church. And, it is in the context of loving God’s people in the church that we find the strength and support to walk in Your healing, victory, and love in this life!
- “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”
- “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT
Lord, help us see the church through Your eyes. Give us a love for Your family. Forgive us for hiding behind a TV screen or neglecting the church altogether. Help us rise up and walk through the door of the church once again, ready to give, to serve, to worship, to forgive, and to love!
Help us love Your church as much as we love You!
In Jesus Name!