Christian Life,  My Salvation

Church – The Body of Christ

For most of my adult life I have longed for a community to live in. A community where people support and help each other. A place where I could watch my kids thrive. I never thought I would find that place in a Christian church. Yet God has placed us in a church that has truly become like a second home to us. It took some time for me to learn to appreciate the church and what it really means. For a while I thought church was all about what it can do for me. I didn’t understand that God has a grand design for the church.church

We have been going to this church for almost two years now. It was Super Bowl Sunday 2013 that we first stepped foot in our church. It felt strange and right all at the same time. Over the months that we first attended church it took some getting used to for me, to learn how to open up and interact with other people. I was not accustomed to being social so often. I had learned to withdraw and be very shy, so that I could protect myself. Yet I was learning and growing every Sunday at the capable hands of the head Pastor.

My hunger and thirst for the Word grew, and my passion for God was burning white-hot. Soon I began to see drama unfold around me with some of the people I was interacting with on a regular basis. It was very upsetting for me, and naturally I wanted to just run from it. I was certain that it was not what God would have for me. I was certain that I was better than all the pettiness I was seeing around me. My husband was feeling the same way. We agreed that maybe we should start looking around for a new church.

There were other reasons we were unhappy. As we started to grow we became less and less satisfied with the teachings on Sunday. We weren’t getting “fed” the spiritual meat we felt we needed. We also felt there was a division in our church among the congregation. There were two services held at the same time – one for the modern crowd and one for the classic crowd. We just didn’t like the direction the church seemed to be going in.

It was then that I found an article on changing your church. I think I Googled how to pick a church when this article popped up. I’m not even certain, all I know is that once I read the article it was clear God had led me right to it. It went point by point why you should not leave your church, but stay with it. It stated that church is for community, and that is the main reason for its existence. For the body to work together to edify each other, building each other up. It also stated that church is full of people, and people are full of drama. You will find it in every church, everywhere, because people are not perfect.

It was a slap in the face really. I knew God was speaking directly to me, so I became resolved to change my attitude about church. My husband and I became very active at church. We had a Life Group, Bible Study, attended all the church functions, and joined many other activities and groups.  Our sons all had tons to do as well. It was going great. For awhile that is.

That is until my church announced it was going to take the next year to go through The Story. I had actually seen a copy of The Story at the local Christian book store and picked it up. I was repulsed by it, because it was just some abridged version of the Bible. What a joke. I really thought I was better than all that. I thought I was learning and growing and knew so much. I guess I needed another piece of humble pie, huh?

Well I got very upset. I began to rant and rave to all my friends, some who were higher up in the church. I was outraged and disgusted, How could our church do this to us? How could they take this infant’s milk and try to bottle feed it to us? Like we were nothing more than little babies incapable of digesting something more substantial. Wow, I took it really seriously. My husband was just as upset. We wanted our church to stand on the truth of the whole Bible, not just half of it.

That is when we became very serious about changing churches. We actively began to seek another church, as we complained to other people outside of our church. Soon we found ourselves getting all dressed up to go to a new church one Sunday. We were excited about the potential of the new church. We just knew it would be so much better – more Godly and Christian than our church. They offered things that our church could not and would not offer. It had all the appeal that new things always have.

But reality is always much different from expectations. This new church was exactly that – a new church. Completely unfamiliar. None of our friends or groups or Bible Studies were at this church. And of course we found things about it we disliked or disagreed with. By the end of the day we felt pretty bummed out and almost like we missed church that day. We went running back to our church home the next Sunday, with a much better outlook on things.

That is when I realized – God is so much bigger than all of that. He had appointed us to this church home, and he is sovereign. If I love Him, then I need to trust Him and know that He put us here for a reason. His ways are higher than our ways, and I can’t always see the purpose in His grand plan for my family. But it is there. God knew that the church was going to do The Story. Did we really think that God couldn’t use The Story to reach people? Is God really so small that He can’t take something like that and still teach and speak to His people? God is changing lives and working miracles every day. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All scripture, not just some of it. That means if someone takes a part of scripture and makes it into a book, it doesn’t make it less useful or God inspired. Church is not about what the Pastor preaches every week. It’s not about the quality of the Bible study or the righteousness of the people who go there. It’s not about if there is a dress code or if the church is seeker friendly. It’s not about what type of worship music is played or how people dress.

Church is about community. It is about Jesus, the head of our church, bringing together His body, to be unified. 

God made church originally for community. To bring us closer together, bearing up together in love, teaching each other, loving each other, supporting each other, mourning and rejoicing together. We were not made to be alone. That is why God made Eve. He saw that Adam was alone, and that is was not good. We were created to be with other people, because we need each other. The problem is not the church, it is sin. We live in a broken world, damaged by sin. Church is not a safe haven away from sin, but a place where we can be open about our sin. We can expose our raw places where we need help, and let others pray for us and encourage us towards our Healer and Redeemer.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

We need to stop looking at church with expectations of what it can give to us, and start looking to ourselves and asking, what can we give to our church? How can we contribute, as a member of the body? God has given us each gifts, and those gifts were not given to keep to ourselves, but to share with the fellow members of our body. Look around you. What needs do you see? There are people hurting, people in need of help in so many ways. We can reach out to them with something as simple as a smile even. Jesus called us out to make disciples of all nations. That doesn’t mean you have to travel the world to begin. You can start in your own church community where there are lost people there right now. Just because they go to your church does not mean they have a personal relationship with Jesus.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:4-8

faithThe church needs you. You have been called for a higher purpose in this life. God did not call you out of a life of darkness randomly. It was for a reason. He personally chose you to be a child of His, to know Him and to spread that infectious and radically love boldly. Do not let the enemy bring you down with his lies, telling you that the petty little dramas around you are worth your time and energy. That is just a distraction from your true purpose.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1