Excerpt from New Word Alive Seminar
Why should you love the Church? In many circles it is a focus for ridicule, hatred, apathy. Noel Edmunds said it was the most boring thing the UK has to offer. I was invited to a meeting of young evangelical leaders recently and discovered not only did most of them represent ministries that had only tangential relationships with a local church, but quite a lot were cynical about the church and distanced themselves from it because they didn’t think it is going anywhere. And that’s believers, and leaders of believers who say they follow Jesus but are suspicious about his church.
I believe in the local church and so should you. Which is not to say that every local church has a right understanding of its DNA. Its purpose for existing. There are basically two kinds of churches with two kinds of mindsets, one biblical the other not. The unbiblical one says “our reason for existing is to get our spiritual needs met. I attend to be looked after.” Its great to be looked after, but its not the reason for the Church. The other, biblical kind says “this community exists to impact this locality and the world with the gospel of the grace of God in Christ.” That’s the local church I believe in, that’s the local church I am excited about and you should be too.
Ten biblical pictures of the local church to excite and enthrall you:
1. A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God for the declaration of his excellencies 1 Peter 2
2. Members of the household of God built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets Eph 2
3. The declaration of the manifold wisdom of God to spiritual authorities and powers Eph 3
4. The bride, the new Jerusalem, being prepared for her husband and for the great wedding feast Rev 21
5. The body of which Jesus is the Head. Infused and indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit with manifestations given to each for the common good 1 Cor 12
6. The community that he obtained by his blood. The value of the church is determined by the value of Jesus blood Acts 20:28
7. The ones to whom the mystery of God is made know, which is Christ in you the hope of glory, Christ in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge Col 1+2
8. The household of living God which is the pillar and support of the truth 1 Tim 3:15
9. The temple of God indwelt by the Spirit 1 Cor 3:16
10. The flock of God John 10:26, 1 Peter 5:2
We could go on: branches on the vine, God’s family, a spiritual building connected to Christ as the cornerstone and the apostolic teaching as the foundation, an olive tree, God’s vineyard.
That’s the picture of a biblically functioning community. God’s given means for growing us in Christ, impacting our local area with the gospel of his grace, calling others to be worshippers with us, sending and going to the nations with the message in the power of the Holy Spirit. Churches are God’s teams for God’s purposes. All too often when we see a local church not functioning biblically our response is to say Church doesn’t work, I will distance myself from Church. And then it never works. I want to start this reflection by saying “be excited about the biblical vision for church, and decide to be the church as God declares it to be in the Bible. Don’t settle for less.”