Since the church is the “bride of Christ,” how would Christ want us to treat her? For that matter, how would Christ want His bride, the church, to treat him?
Some people say, “I believe in Jesus, but I don’t care much for the church.” Others claim, “I can be a good Christian without any involvement with the church.” Still others boast, “I love Jesus, but we watch our favorite preaching and Christian music on the television, or we listen on the radio.” Even a few rationalize, “As a Christian I am a member of the universal church so why bother with a local church?”
What is wrong with these statements?
First, we miss the significant impact of relationships developed in the local church.
JN 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Second, we miss the significant responsibility to serve the other members of a local church.
1 CO 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
RO 12:4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them . . .
Third, we miss the significant opportunity to financially support the mission of the local church.
2 CO 9:10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.
Fourth, we miss the significant experience of corporate worship and the exhortation of God’s word.
HE 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Fifth, we miss the significant call to follow Jesus as a disciple, making disciples of others in close relationship.
LK 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
MT 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .
What are other pieces of biblical evidence that God is at work through the local church?
- God ordains pastors and deacons to lead and serve local churches
- The holy spirit endows spiritual gifts to all Christians for the purpose of serving in the local church
- God called Paul to plant local churches and appoint elders in various places in Europe and Asia Minor
- Paul trained others, including Timothy, to carry on his work
- Paul wrote letters to specific local churches to include Corinth, Ephesus and Colossae
- God designed his church so they would have close fellowship and loving support
- God gave the local church authority to discipline its members
Maybe we’ve forgotten who the church is? If someone invited you to a Christmas party but they asked you to leave your spouse at home, how would you respond? If someone invited you to a wedding, but didn’t invite your spouse how would you respond? If some said, I love you, but I can do without your spouse, how would that make you feel? If someone said they loved their spouse but was too busy to spend any time with them, what would you think? I hope you get the point. Jesus loves His bride, the church, and so should we.
A Work in Progress,