Why should we cherish the church? Part I
Published 10:51 am Wednesday, April 5, 2017
“I don’t need church. I can worship God just fine fishing in my boat.”
“I love Jesus, but I’m not crazy about organized religion.”
Before we can talk further about church membership, we should establish why the church is worthy of our affections. If we claim to cherish God, we should cherish what God cherishes, which is his church.
God has created humanity for community. Everything he made in creation he said was good, except one thing, when man was alone (Genesis 2:18). God has even lived in community with himself in the trinity — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been in community with one another for all of eternity.
Being made in the image of God, we are called to be one with another as well (John 17:22).
As a residential assistant in college, I recommended students have roommates to help prepare them for marriage. You cannot grow in patience without living in community with one who tests your patience. You cannot learn to forgive without exposing yourself to a community in which you are wronged. You know those metal tumblers — where you throw all of the metal objects in the bowl and they shine each other up? Church is designed by God to be the Christian tumbler.
We are also to cherish Church because God created the Church to proclaim the Gospel. It is the community of believers that have been charged to teach, to baptize, to make disciples of the nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Christians are not baptized to live life alone. They are baptized into a body (1 Corinthians 12:13). A dysfunctional family does not spend time together; God’s family should.
God has purposed the church to protect the Gospel. According to Titus 1:9, pastors have a role to “give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Paul tells Timothy to “guard the deposit entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20). But it is not just the pastors’ jobs to know sound doctrine.
Christians need to be like the Bereans in Acts who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” The church is God’s chosen vessel to preserve the Gospel. We are stronger working through doctrinal issues together than studying the Bible in isolation.
God has purposed the church to promote his glory. Paul explains in Ephesians 3:9-10 that the church is the vessel God is using to display the “manifold wisdom of God” to help reveal the “mystery hidden for ages in God.”
We promote God’s manifold wisdom when in a culture of racism, we seek to worship with and reach all peoples of the nations. We promote God’s wisdom when in a culture of death, we stand for life, not just the forgotten unborn, but the forgotten orphans, widows and nursing homes. We promote his wisdom when we love our enemies while the world only expects love to be reciprocal. Our church gatherings should say to Satan, “Look! You’re losing, and you’ve lost. Jesus is gathering the nations to himself and he will one day rule the nations with truth and grace.”
A faithful church puts a spotlight on Jesus. An unfaithful church obstructs the message of the greatness of God. Remember, the church is the Gospel made visible.
In our next article we will observe how Jesus and the Holy Spirit cherish the church.
Matthew Homan is the pastor of Eureka Baptist Church. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.