Written by Cassidy Waldron.
Church is a hot topic of conversation lately. Unfortunately, it seems to mostly be reasons to quit going. Because it doesn’t fit one’s ideal vision of what Jesus intended, some claim the solution is to turn away from the church altogether — to reject the community as a whole. People want to relegate church, arguing that having a personal relationship with God and loving others is enough to be an active member of the kingdom of God.
Scripture is clear that the church is an essential aspect of our faith. The church is described as the body of Christ, Christ’s bride, God’s temple and bought with Christ’s blood. The church is our given, intended community of believers within which we bring glory to God and his kingdom. One common argument is that the church is an imperfect collection of sinners and is therefore inherently imperfect (and can be rejected). But that’s not how the Bible refers to believers. In all of Paul’s letters, he never once begins with, “Hello there, sinners.” Rather, he addresses them as “holy people,” despite the issues they wrestled with. Members of the church do sin — but it is not our identity. Calling the church a group of “sinners” puts it on the wrong side of the cross.
We should always seek to improve our community wherever we see its flaws. However, we should not turn away from the church just because things are difficult. There might be situations in which leaving a particular congregation is necessary, but abandoning church forever is not. Silence and complacency are rarely, if ever, the solution. Instead, let’s pour into our local church what is missing from it. We are not entitled to abandon it when the cracks show; it’s our responsibility to see them, mend them and move forward. We simply can’t say we love Christ and hate his body. You cannot look at your spouse and say you dearly love their head but will not love their body. You cannot claim to accept Christ and reject his bride. You can’t have a healthy relationship with Jesus and refuse to go to church.
It’s not about you. It’s not about me, either (thank goodness for that). That is why the gospel is “good news.” It’s a relief — the pressure is off. Jesus makes up for our shortcomings. But we still tend to make things about ourselves. We turn God into our own personal version — one who is particularly judgmental about the things we hate and curiously merciful toward the things we’re guilty of. We do the same thing with the church. We don’t like the singing, the sermon, the class or the time, so we make it about us. But we are not the ultimate judges of righteousness. What we need is more humility, not self-righteous outrage.
I’m not here to say who’s getting saved and who’s not. All I know is that scripture is clear that attending, participating in and promoting the church are all integral parts of being a faithful Christian. We cannot have one without the other. It’s not that I think I know what’s best — it’s just what the Bible says. It’s not about you or me. It’s not about what “feels right.” It’s not about what is socially acceptable. Modernity often compels us to reject tradition, but this is a threat to our faith. It’s the enemy’s clever, shiny veil to obscure his efforts to keep us from salvation — which is only through Jesus Christ and his bride.