Almost weekly there is an article, social media post, or comment that someone makes to the effect of “I like Jesus, but not the church.” It comes from people who (I hope) have good intentions. They are concerned that the church has become a marginalized place that people do not want to go because of all the “hypocrisy.” Thus, they love Jesus, but not the church. I would love to deal with the idea that there would be no hypocrites in the church, but alas, I will save that for another post. What I want to deal with is the idea that you can love Jesus, but not the church.
Typically those who have this distaste for the church, call for some sort of dramatic change in order for the church to become “relevant” again. This really pains me to see. Here are 3 reasons why we should still love the church.
Jesus loves the church.
No reason is more important for us to love the church than that Jesus loved the church. Followers of Jesus should love the things that He loved–and the church is one of those things! Not only does He love the church, He died for her.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. –Ephesians 5:25b
If the church meant so much to Jesus, it should mean a lot to us as well.
The church is about God, not you.
Why do you go to church? Or, why should you go to church? Some people believe that they go to church so they can get something for that week. Wheather it is encouragement, help, or knowledge, they attend church looking to “get something” out of it for themselves. There are several things wrong with this type of thinking.
- The church exists for believers to gather to focus on God–not themselves. If we go to church to “get something” we will likely leave dissatisfied because that is not what the church is designed for. When we see the church gathered in the New Testament it was for the purpose of lifting up the name of Christ and celebrating what He had done–they were not celebrating themselves. Will (or can) you get something? Yes, but only if your focus is on God and not yourself.
- We are there to serve one another. One of the primary things that we should be doing as a church is looking to see how we can encourage each other. The author of Hebrews challenged those who would skip out on the church that they were missing out on this element.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. –Hebrews 10:24
- This can lead to idolatry. I know that you think this is a big leap, however, when we elevate ourselves above the mission and purpose of what the church is there to do, we are basically worshipping ourselves. Exercising the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control) can only happen when we put the needs of others in front of our own. If we go to church to try and get our way, have our preferences met, and manipulate it so that it suits us, then we are likely guilty of missing the larger purposes. The church is about subverting my will to God’s first, and then to my brother in Christ. If I really care about the lost and other believers, I will allow my preferences to die in order to reach them and help them grow. Hopefully, as they grow they will believe the same things, then everyone can have something that if for them (or as we like to say at my church–“We have something to offend everyone!.”). When my preferences have to be “right” I may be approaching idolatry.
The church is God’s primary plan to reach the world.
In David Platt’s popular book, Radical, he says that we [the church] are God’s plan A, and there is no plan B. If we really want to fulfill the great commission it takes all of us working together–and that happens as the church.
for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” . . . faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. –Romans 10:13-15, 17
Let me qualify all of this by saying that there are more healthy and less healthy churches out there. I am not saying that every church is perfect, but I do think that Jesus loves every church and we should try our dead-level best to help churches in reaching the world for Christ and making disciples. If we abandon the church we abandon what Christ himself instituted.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. –Matthew 16:18
The rock was not Peter, but his confession that Jesus was, “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus was going to build His church on that confession. This means that He wanted to build a church and he wanted it to be unified around the mission of reaching the world with His message.
I have only dealt briefly with a few of the reasons people should still love the church. What other reasons would you add? Let us know in the comments below.