Note: The writer of this blog offers you a humble apology. There have not been any posts in the last few months. I was on a break. While it is not wrong to be on a break, it was not right that readers were kept uninformed of the same.
It’s possible that you are a person who has been hurt by the church in the past. Or, you have never, ever, felt the need to depend on or trust church members with the good and bad in your life. And yet, today you might find yourselves surrounded by sincere, yet imperfect Christians in God’s sovereign plans.
You know in the back of your mind that God’s Word commands the disciples of Jesus to treat one another with deep, fervent love. You’ve heard time and again, the call to live truly as a church family. But you really can’t trust these people.
And why should I, you may ask? “I have no friends in the church. Whenever I’ve tried, they have only given me more problems. So it makes sense to avoid them now”, you say. “Tolerance and silent participation worked in school; it works here too”.
And yet you claim to have a proper relationship with Jesus and you read your Bible almost every day and you pray.
The Main Point
Here’s the main point of this post – you cannot point fingers at God’s people and keep accusing the church. That is Satan’s job description.
Someday, somewhere, you need to fold your finger back up, see what you have done to Christ and to others as the vilest treason ever, repent of unbelief and join the grand feast of gospel forgiveness and reconciliation.
“But why?”, you ask? “What is wrong with the way I am living now? I still believe in Christ, you know!”
If all you can trust is yourself and God, but not God’s local expression of His people – the church – and you are found blocking the Holy Spirit’s gracious attempts to restore you to your eternal community, then these are your realities:
1. You do not desire to love God’s beloved.
The local church is God’s beloved in time and space.
You imagine you will somehow get away with loving Christ and not loving his bride. Try to think of the logic of the statement above. Do we really think God will, of all things, overlook such an affront to Him? Your relationship with the Body, the church, speaks volumes about your relationship with the Head, Jesus.
2. You are failing to love your neighbour as you love yourself.
How many times have you trusted yourself and let your own self down?
The number of times you told yourself you will wake up on time, but no! The times you determined you won’t watch that filth or speak unforgiving words, but no! The times you promised others you will – but you did not! If I were to stop now and count the number of times I have broken my own trust, my own word, and even others’ trust, it would be reason enough to be mighty depressed at my own depravity; yet I have chosen to be patient with myself.
That is how Jesus expects you, Christian, to live with the church. “You shall love your neighbour as you love yourself”. The majority of New Testament letters bear consistent witness to how the apostles reminded church communities of the Good News, of their new identity in Christ and urged them to achieve love and unity within the local church and promote gracious living with one another. This would then impact a watching world (John 13:34,35). Keeping an arm’s distance is not the love of Christ.
3. Your status quo is a failure to love Jesus as well
Jesus said the 2nd commandment (loving your neighbour) is as significant as the 1st (loving God). “Tolerance” of God’s people and formal interaction, pales in comparison to the kind of love exemplified in the New Testament.
Please listen to me; you are not rejecting an organisation – you are rejecting the Saviour! After all, how can you possibly not exercise faith to love the brother or sister you see (1 John 4:20,21) but possess faith to love a God who is not to be seen at all?
4. You disagree with God’s will.
The three implications above show you are actively or passively contending clearly against God’s will. There’s more –
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins… (Heb 10:24-26)
Somehow you assume your self-imposed solitary confinement is just fine. Is that because you just trust yourself and don’t trust Jesus ? Deep within, you believe you know best. But in reality, God knows best.
Using logic then, we arrive at this conclusion: you are your own god. That’s exactly what Adam and Eve achieved on their own – same sin, different day.
I think I know what you might be raring to shout out.
Yes. All the things churches have done wrong.
Yes, all the sexual abuse.
All the heavy-handedness.
All the bickering and fighting that has happened.
All in the name of Christ. These people don’t deserve to be trusted at all!
You are right. Such people don’t deserve to be trusted. In fact, they should be held accountable for such vile things. How dare they! But the sins of your local church have been judged and punished. Don’t you believe it?
Just ask Jesus hanging on the cross.
The church is no different from you. When you point your fingers at what seems to be a high-handed, cold-blooded religious organisation (never mind “believing the best about others”), beware, lest you find yourself accusing the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. The people inside the church are broken sinners like you and me, redeemed and highly dependent on grace Jesus gives to live the life of Christ.
Let’s not become the elder son in Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son, standing outside God’s home and railing against the inexcusable younger son (Luke 15:28,29). For the older son represented the self-righteous Pharisees and beware lest you become just the same. Our victimhood will not earn us a fake righteousness before God; these are fig leaves from Eden. Please reject them. Embrace Jesus.
For really, you and the church stand equally needy of Jesus. Neither you nor the church deserved His rescue from hell one bit.
But our Good Shepherd, Jesus, became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins so we can become sheep under His sovereign care (John 10:14,15,16). With Him, you will have much power to obey the seemingly impossible commands in Scripture!
That is such wonderful Good News. Now walk in, come talk out things with your local church and experience His complete goodness together – as we ought to.