Faith & Worship: ‘What’s to love about the church?’

Published 8:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2018

I have been around the local church my entire life.

I have been to unlimited services, Sunday school classes, revival meetings, business conferences, singings, Christmas plays, Easter egg hunts and covered dish luncheons.

That also means I have been around church people my entire life. I have seen the great things God can do through the church when the people are committed, focused and doing it for the glory of Jesus Christ, but I have also seen the terrible things that can happen when the people are selfish, argue and forget why the church even exists in the first place.

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Other church members have hurt me before, and yes, I have hurt other church members, whether it was by my words, my attitude, my opinion or by my actions. I have seen the church when it could be described as a war zone, but I have also seen the church when it could be described as a heaven on earth.

I also understand that the church has been an object of public scrutiny over the years due to obvious flaws in the character and conduct of hypocritical members. I know that if I were a salesman for the church, you probably would refuse to buy my description of the product, but before you turn the page, I urge you to remember that the church is God’s idea.

The church is the beautiful bride of Christ that he loves, sacrificed his life for, and set apart for his purposes (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Maybe today you are struggling with your experiences with the church.

Perhaps you have been hurt in your time as a church member. It’s possible that you are a part of a church that can’t get along. It’s also possible that your view of the purpose of the church may be warped today because you have preferences, opinions and beliefs about the church that are not rooted in God’s word, but in your own understanding, experiences and desires.

I urge you to be very careful that your own opinions of the church do not outweigh what Scripture teaches about her! While there may be some strong things to dislike about the church, I can find some wonderful things to love about it that I would like to share with you, which may give you a completely different perspective.

• The church has the hope of the world — the Gospel!

If the world were a person, it would be the sickest in history. Covered in sin, shame and condemnation, the world has a condition that only has one cure, and that is salvation through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Because the church is made up of believers in Jesus Christ who have been saved by God’s grace, our calling is to possess and depend on our steadfast faith in the hope of the Gospel (Colossians 1:23-24), and share it with others who do not know Jesus Christ.

If you had the only cure to the world’s deadliest disease, wouldn’t you be eager to share it with those who needed to be healed? The Church has the hope of the world in the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The Apostle Paul said “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)!

• The church helps one another grow in God’s word

The word of God (the Bible) is sufficient to address and equip the church on how to live in the world, but also engage the world with the truth. I would be so bold to say that the word of God has an answer for all of life’s problems (2 Timothy 3:16 & Romans 15:4).

The church exists to help each member hear, understand and apply God’s word in his or her life. The beauty of the church learning God’s word is that they will know how they should believe, how they should behave and how they should share it with others who may not know Jesus Christ as their savior and lord.

• The church loves others with God’s love

One of my favorite things to do with my church is share the love of Jesus with others through meeting their needs, whether they are physical, emotional or spiritual. We are commanded in Scripture to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Jesus told us that we should let our light so shine before men that when they would see our good deeds and glorify God in heaven (Matthew 5:16). The purpose of all the love that the church shares with their community and beyond is so that others will come to encounter and know the love that God has for them (John 3:16).

To me, the church offers far more than charity and service to those around them — the church offers God’s love, peace, and gift of salvation to those who will hear and believe. It is out of pure joy that the church gets to share the wonderful gift of God’s love with others!

• The church is the only group of people in the world who know the way to heaven

I understand this statement might spark controversy, but it is the truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). What sets the church apart is our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.

The Bible tells us “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Bible also tells us that in heaven, the only people that will be with God are those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation (Revelation 21:27).

There are many differences between Christianity and other world religions, but the chief definitive characteristic of the church is that it is a body of believers in Jesus Christ.

As a believer in Jesus Christ myself, I am not going to heaven because I am good or worthy or American. I am not going to heaven because I earned it or because I’m better than anyone else in the world.

I am going to heaven because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ, the head and heart of the Church (Colossians 1:18).

There are many more reasons to love the church that I did not have the time or space to write, but I hope these words today will give you a stronger love and appreciation for your church. I am thankful to say that I belong to a wonderful church. Yes, we are imperfect — mainly because they have me as their pastor (ha-ha), but we do love Jesus, and we love serving him and others with his love.

If you are a part of a church, the best thing you can do is love and support each person that makes it up! Pray for one another, and join in on their mission!

If you don’t have a church home, please consider joining us at Midway Baptist Church. We would be delighted to have you. There are many reasons to love the church, and you are one of those reasons!

The church is way more than a building — you are the church! God bless you.

Rev. Peter McDonald, Midway Baptist Church