Why should we cherish the church? Part II
Published 11:05 am Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Why should we cherish the church? Because Jesus cherishes the church. Jesus purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28). To say church doesn’t matter is to say Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross doesn’t matter. The old hymn says, “O, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow.” If the blood of Jesus is precious, then the church for which the blood was shed is precious. Jesus also pursues the church as his bride (Revelation 19:7, Ephesians 5:25). To disrespect the church is to disrespect the bride of Jesus. If someone disrespects my bride, it is disrespect for me. Don’t despise my bride. Don’t despise the church. Additionally, Jesus personifies the church. Jesus asks Saul (who became the Apostle Paul) in Acts 9:4, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Notice the “me.” Saul could not be physically persecuting Jesus. Jesus was already in heaven after resurrecting from the grave. Jesus was telling the ravager of the early church that he so identifies with his bride the church, that an attack on his people is an attack on him.
Why should we cherish the church? Because the Holy Spirit cherishes the church. Ephesians chapter two uses the metaphor of a structure to describe the church and the builder of this structure is the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). Jesus promised that his church would be built (Matthew 16:18) and it is the Holy Spirit who builds it. One of my church members has built a beautiful cottage on his property. I have had the privilege of getting the tour of this tranquil abode, but no matter how beautiful the cottage, I care about the building because I care about the builder. If you believe you care about the Holy Spirit, do you treasure what he builds?
I am not so naïve to think that the people that make up local churches are perfect, including the pastor, but God is certainly not naïve either and yet loves his sinful church. That is the essence of the Gospel — grace. While we were yet sinners, Jesus died for our sin. We didn’t get what we deserved, but those who repent and believe in Jesus are made brand new, into a people of God called the Church, and given the gift of the Spirit. The Spirit guarantees that a true Christian will grow into the likeness of Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). Remember, the Spirit builds the church. For the one who claims to be a Christian but excuses his involvement in church because of its hypocrisy, friend, God has a process in place to deal with the hypocrisy of unrepentance (unrepentance is no acknowledgement of wrongdoing, no remorse for the sin, no fight to overcome it). Here’s the process: Jesus expects all true believers to repent, for he commands that those who refuse to repent of sin should not be a member of a church and treated as an unbeliever (Matthew 18:15-17). If it is you who claims to be a follower of Jesus, yet you despise the organized church, friend, are you following Jesus when you do not love what he loves?
The triune God —Father, Son and Holy Spirit cherishes the church.
Do you despise what God is building? Do you despise what God cherishes? A true Christian loves the church, for Christ loves his church.
Matthew Homan is the pastor of Eureka Baptist Church. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.