I’m a skeptic. It honestly feels like it’s built into my DNA. If I’m not careful, my natural posture is one of doubting, eye rolling, and cynicism. The reason I have to be careful is sometimes, not always, this disposition can lead to sin in my life. One area I know that to be certain is in how I previously felt, and am sometimes tempted to still feel, about the Church.
The mixture of my being skeptical, growing up in an entitled millennial culture, and having televangelists and self-help experts as my childhood exposure to church left a bad taste in my mouth for the people of God. I didn’t know it then, but my dislike for the Church was a virus: it infected more than I knew. I used to think I would never love the Church. By the grace of God, I was wrong. One of the clearest marks of God’s kindness in my life is that he has made me love his people. In the process, I’ve learned to be eternally grateful for the Church. Here are just three reasons, and there are more, that outline why I love the Church:
1.) A Taste of Home for the “Elect Exiles.”
1 Peter refers to us as “elect exiles.” I find this title precious and insightful. We know as Christians, that if we are in Christ, we have been chosen from before the foundations of the world. The Lord has loved us, even though we weren’t lovely, and chose to make us his own.
Yet, we are also “exiles,” meaning we aren’t at home here - not yet. You might even be able to feel the truth of this statement. When I log into social media, watch the news, talk to many of my peers, I can feel it: I’m not home. Walking through life as foreigners in a foreign land can take its toll. Enter the Church. When we are with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we get a small taste of what it is like to be home. When we are with the Church, we get to experience the sweet grace of being with family. After the cuts and wounds occur due to living in a foreign land, there are few things as sweet as healing time with brothers and sisters.
2.) Experiencing a Hundred Proofs of Grace.
I hope I’m not the first to tell you this, but you are a sinner. You and I are in the same boat—we have committed cosmic treason against a holy God. What’s worse is that people like you and I deserve death and separation from God due to our sin. Yet, in Christ, that’s not what we get. In Christ, we get the “riches of his grace.” One of these riches is the Church. When you are spending time with a fellow brother or sister, you aren’t experiencing something you’re entitled too. You’re experiencing grace.
Those moments spent with the members at your church are, for better or worse, grace-laced moments. You don’t deserve to have a brother to call when you need to confess sin to. You don’t deserve to have a sister who will gladly interrupt your despair with a reminder of the gospel. You don’t deserve to be covenanted to fellow members who will “see to it that you don’t fail to obtain the grace of God.” Yet, in the Church, that’s exactly what you have.
Time with the saints is time spent experiencing grace. If you go to a church with one hundred believers, then every Sunday you are with them, you are in the presence of one hundred proofs of grace you don’t deserve. Assuming this posture towards our fellow believers – that they are gifts of grace – would stir up our affections for the Church.
3.) A Fellowship of Co-Laborers.
Christian, I’m not sure if you’ve read Matthew 28 in a while, but if you have, you’re aware that you’ve been called to no small task. Indeed, the Lord has seen it fit to use broken people—like you and me—to take the greatest story ever told to the ends of the earth for his glory. Yet, this isn’t a burden that we have to bear in isolation.
We stand in a fellowship of co-laborers that spans over thousands of years who have been endeavoring toward this end faithfully. Before our grandparent’s grandparents were even a thought, men and women have been laying down their well-being for the sake of taking the gospel to the nations. Even today, we march with millions of men and women who were once dead and are now alive, laboring for every tribe and every tongue to hear of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord. Believer, the Great Commission is just that—it’s great. It’s greater than you or I are on our own. We need to be walking with the Church because our calling calls for something greater than individuality.
A Final Word
God, by his grace, cured my viral skepticism of the Church. A healthy dose of reality and biblical wisdom counteracted my youthful angst against organized religion. I’m thankful for this reality, because I’ve learned that every step I took away from the Church was a step taken in disobedience. Every word I spoke against the Church was a word spoken against God’s bride, and those are words I don’t want to be found coming forth from my mouth. Beloved, if you find yourself apart from the Church, you are missing out on a greater grace and joy than any words I could put in a blog post can explain. A final word to all Christians: There is too much at stake, allow yourself to fall deeply in love with the Church.