Monday, August 25, 2014

There's Nothing Else Like The Church!

I'm sure it hasn't escaped your notice, but the Church gets a really bad rap in the minds of most people today.  Tragically it’s true that there have been some people who have terribly marred her reputation by their unscrupulous and at times perverse and abusive actions.   And yes it is true that because of unthinking words, silly disagreements and selfish attitudes, there are times when local churches can be places of hurt and pain and strife.
 As a result a lot of people, even people who name the name of Christ have this kind of take it or leave it attitude toward the Church, some see it as a necessary evil of Christianity, others as something that they know they ought to be engaged with at least when there’s nothing much else going on, still others have withdrawn themselves completely and believe that they can do just fine without any local church connection.   Many even professing believers have at best a casual relationship with the Church.  But the Church is a glorious thing!  
There is nothing else in the world like the Church.  And it is vital that we understand that we cannot not love the Church without setting ourselves in opposition to Christ!   Let me say that again, if our relationship with the Church is something less than one of committed and passionate love then we are actually living in opposition to Christ.   Because Christ loves the Church.  He doesn’t love it like some poor sick puppy that He feels kind of sorry for.  He is passionate about it and He is committed to it.The Church is Jesus’ “plan A” for the world, and He has no “plan B.” Jesus loves the Church and you should too!

In Matthew 16:13-19, we learn that the Church is Jesus' idea and He is the one who is building it!
When Jesus states, I will build my Church – we need to understand this is the first time this thing called the Church is even referred to.
 The word used which is Eklesia was a word used in other settings to refer to an assembly of people, but it could be an assembly of any sort.   But Jesus here is quite literally claiming the word as His own and re-tasking it for His purposes.  This is His declaration of this incredible new thing that He is going to do.  We need to understand The Church is Jesus’ idea and He is its builder!
Most literally the word Church or Eklesia means, called out ones!  And that is what we are.  In Christ we are called out from sin to freedom, we are called out from darkness to light, we are called out from death to life.  The Church is the called out people of God.  
Because the Church is Jesus’ idea and because He is the one who builds it there are 2 essential truths that we absolutely have to grasp.
1.      The Church is utterly glorious, good and without compare.
2.      The building of the Church will go on unhindered until the very moment that Jesus declares it complete!  Nothing and no one can thwart His work.  Not even the gates of hell can stand in opposition to it.  Jesus is building His Church!  There are times when it seems like the power of darkness is prevailing.  There are times when it seems like opposition against the things of God is growing – but know this, the Church is Jesus’ idea, He is building it, and nothing will stand against His purposes!
No other people, no government, no other organization on the face of the earth can claim this same thing.

And since He is building the Church there is no other group, organization or government on the face of the earth that is as important, precious and significant as the Church! None!

The American Cancer Society may be doing some good work – but they do not compare to the Church. The Children’s Hunger Fund, The Literacy and Education organizations out there, Habitat for Humanity and countless others may all be doing good things – but only the Church is being built by Jesus Christ for His purposes!
Some people probably figure, "well, you're a Pastor, you would say that!"  But, to be honest as a pastor, I could make a longer list of excuses than most as to why I shouldn’t love the church, why I shouldn’t be committed to it.  If you think you see stains and blemishes, believe me I probably see more – but none of them are valid.  Because while Jesus is using messed up and broken, but redeemed people to build His Church – what He is building is infinitely glorious.  And since He loves it, since it is His idea, and since He is the one who leads, builds and accomplishes His purposes through the Church – as one who has been purchased by Him, saved by Him, forgiven by Him and called into service by Him – those of us who profess Christ have no choice but to love and to commit ourselves to what He loves and has committed Himself to.