Last week I wrote a blog post about why I love the Bible. You can read it here. This time I'm sharing about why I love the Church. Once again, I get it. I'm a pastor. Not a big surprise that I love the Church. That's my job right? But to be honest, it's probably harder for pastors to love the Church than it is for most people. That's because pastors see it all, we experience it all, and we are a part of it all. The good and the bad, the hope and the hurt, the beauty and the baggage that comes along with the Church. Yet through it all, I truly love the Church. Here are a few reasons why.
1. The Church is Human.
When I say human, I mean it in a very literal way. Let me begin by clarifying the word Church. The Church is not a building. It's the group of people who have committed their lives to following Jesus. And the Church (capital C) isn't just one particular group meeting in a certain location (e.g. Ginghamsburg Church). It includes every Christian all across the globe. The church is made up of human beings from different nations, tribes, cultures, languages, races, genders, and ages. It's this beautifully diverse group of people who are united together because of one God who became human himself.
Not only is the Church human in the literal sense, but it's also human in a personal, vulnerable, fallible sense as well. Meaning the church isn't perfect. It's human. It's prone to error. It has its fair share of weaknesses. It's sinful. Yet God still chooses to redeem it and use it, in all of its humanness, to redeem the world. Which leads to my next point.
2. The Church is the Clearest Picture of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
When I think about how God is at work in the world through His Church, I'm humbled and honored to be a part of it. It's offering the world a glimpse at the Kingdom of Heaven. The Church changing the world and making it a better place. It's feeding the hungry. Providing clean water for the thirsty. Clothing the naked. Providing healthcare for the sick. Caring for the prisoner. Giving hope to the hurting. Working to eradicate diseases. Fighting against injustice and evil. Forgiving others when it doesn't make sense. And loving their enemies. The Church is truly incredible, and it's a wonderful picture of what God's Kingdom looks like.
3. Jesus Loves the Church.
I often remind myself of this fact. Jesus loves the Church. And I love the Church because Jesus loves the Church. It's pretty easy to complain about the Church. It's easy to find fault in it. It's easy to grow cynical and check out when it comes to the Church. But as a follower of Jesus, I'm called to love what he loves, and Jesus loves the Church. There's a rather mysterious passage in Ephesians where we read about Jesus' love for the Church. The picture we get here is that of a groom's love for his bride. It's actually right in the middle of Paul's instructions to husbands and wives about how to love each other. The words used to describe the church through the eyes of Jesus are words like: radiant, blameless, holy. Those are powerful words. That's how Jesus sees his Church. Church, that's how Jesus sees you. This is how we are to see each other. This is how we are to love each other.
A Few Final Thoughts
I don't know where you land when it comes to the Church. Maybe you've been hurt by it. If that's true, then I would like to apologize on behalf of the Church. We don't always get it right. I don't always get it right. But if you have been hurt, I'd encourage you to give it another chance. Remember that the church is human. It will fail you. But also remember that God is up to something pretty amazing, and He's doing it through the Church.
Maybe you don't know the Church. Maybe you've never had any personal experience with it. If that's true, then I'd encourage you to give the Church a chance. It may just be the hope you are looking for. You'll never know unless you give it a shot.
Finally, maybe you are like me. Maybe you are the Church. If that's true then I'd encourage you to do two things. One, love the world like Jesus does. And two, love the Church like Jesus does. Because at the end of the day, you and I, in all of our humanness and all of our holiness, are the best picture this world has of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.