The Church is the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, the Flock of God. We, collectively, are a thing of beauty in the eyes of the Lord. But we are also to be beautiful to the participants of the church – to one another.
Think about it:
We are different. No two church members or churches are the same. God likes variety; that’s beautiful.
We are multifaceted. We possess various abilities, gifts and talents. God makes sure that every gift the church needs is present; that’s beautiful.
We are diverse. The Church is comprised of all types of people. In fact, heaven is described as being made up of every tongue, tribe and nation; that’s beautiful.
We differ. None of us agree on everything (or sometimes anything), yet we are united! That’s beautiful.
We respect and honor others above ourselves. So, when another member of the Body displays characteristics different from ours, we differ to them. That’s beautiful.
We embrace distinctions. Sisters and Brothers from different cultures are loved. Those who prefer various worship styles and methods are valued. We don’t have to have everything our way in order to love and fully engage in the Church. That’s beautiful.
A beautiful thing about the Church is, God has included us, all Bible believing followers of Christ, regardless of our earthly quirks and idiosyncrasies. This includes you and me.
How beautiful is that!?
God loves the Church, even with all of its problems. He is fully aware of the corruption and exploitation. He knows the phonies, the bullies, the manipulators and the heretics. Nothing gets by Him. He sees every time a church leader abuses someone. He knows every time an unscrupulous leader steals money. He is aware of the wrong that is done in the name of the Church. He takes note of the damage that religious regulations do. For every horror story you and I could tell about the Church, God could tell a million.
Yet, in spite of all of these things, God loves the Church. The Church is God’s plan to reach the world. He identifies the Church as His “Bride.” Even with all of its faults, God chooses to work through the Church. There is no other plan to reach the world for Christ – He chose the Church and only the Church to serve this purpose.
Before we criticize the Church, before we choose to leave the church, if we make the decision to stay away from church altogether, realize that God has His hand on the Church. When we make the choice to walk away, we are actually hurting the Church rather than helping the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ, we are meant to be connected to the Church; if we are not, we all suffer.
The Church will never be perfect while we are here on this earth. But each of us can vow to do our best to make the Church better. It becomes better as a whole when the individuals that make up the Church become better people. When I become better and you become better, the Church becomes better. In fact, when participants in the church accept the duty to become better Christians, the Church always improves. The Church represents Christ; we must do our best to represent Him well.
Rather than bemoan how bad the church is, let’s invest in making the Church better. The next time someone criticizes the Church, invite them to be a part of the solution. And the next time you observe something bad about the church, take responsibility to make that bad thing good. You will be making the Church better.
God loves the church, even with all of its problems. We must also love the Church.
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” I Corinthians 12:12, 18, 25-27 (NLT)
We need you to be at your best. You possess unique giftings that are necessary for larger success; when you win, we all win. As part of a team, we will all get more done. Individually, none of us will accomplish much of significance.
The challenges our generation faces require someone with your abilities. There are enough problems; we need you to be a part of the solution.
You can opt out, but someone else will need to step up, your job still needs to be done. If someone else steps up to do your job, who will do their job? It doesn’t take long for the entire thing to unravel.
We need you to contribute. Please join in. If you do, you will enjoy the fulfillment of a job well-done as well as great success for the body of Christ.
You are needed!