For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, January 16, 2012

She's Still the Church

I know I’m late to this party. I’ve always been a little slow on things, and with the lightning speed of Twitter and such, I don’t catch up with things until it’s all blow over. But I’ll drop my two cents anyway.

There’s been a lot of hoopla over a video-poem bemoaning “religion” in favor of Jesus. Loving Jesus, it supposes, is not religion. Being a Christian is not the same as being “the Church.” Just love Jesus, and don’t worry about the organized religion stuff.

Now, granted there is some glimmer of truth in that. The Church down through the years has suffered from the same sort of maladies that the Jewish temple goers of days gone by suffered from. Namely, an outward show of “religion” that denies the reality behind it. Some equate the building and the ritual with religion and have no true heart for God. That’s true in any religious expression really.

The problem is, this religion vs. Jesus idea puts up a false division. Voddie Baucham addresses this very well (in fact he did so back in 2008 when his article was first posted), so I’ll urge you to read that and not repeat it here.

The point is, this kind of religion vs. relationship idea puts people in a mind to see the Church as a big, bad wolf to be avoided. Real Christians, they suggest, are just the warm, squishy folks who walk around loving Jesus. This may not have been the point of the video, but it's the conclusion many draw. We have to remember that the Church is the Bride of Christ. No it’s not perfect. Yes, we have our problems. But if you love Jesus, you will love His Bride, blemishes and all.

To be sure, we don’t settle for the blemishes. Men like Martin Luther and John Calvin and John Knox and others have all fought for the purity and reform of the church. But I never read/heard a one of them suggesting that to love Jesus means to hate “religion” and the “organized church.”

I understand that the author of this viral video has since seen the danger of some of his language. You can read a brief account of a conversation between him and one of his critics here.

Still, this isn’t the first time someone has set up this Jesus vs. religion, or even Jesus vs. the Church idea. And it won’t be the last. We need to remember that no Church is perfect, we will always fall short, and we should always challenge one another to do more, better, etc. But the Church, as I said, is still the Bride of Christ, and if we truly love Christ, it will be seen in our love for His Church.

Consider these words from Charles Spurgeon concerning demonstrating our love for Christ’s Church.

Show proofs of your love in reference to God’s people. How can that be done? Some of you need to have this thing gone over with you because you have evidently forgotten it. If you are God’s servants you love his people, and the first proof you should give is to go and join with them…

And then unite with them in all their service. The school wants Sunday school teachers. You love Christ, you say, and you love the young: show us a proof of your love. Come and help in that good work. There is something or other that you can do for Jesus, and for his church; do it, and thus show us a proof of your love.

Show the proof of your love by comforting the saints in affliction; by helping them as much as you can when they are in need; by defending their good name whenever you hear them railed at; by suffering nobody to speak against them falsely when you are by. Stand up for them.

Show them the proof of your love by bearing with their infirmities. The church is not perfect, and if it were it would not be perfect after you had joined it. You who have so many infirmities yourself should patiently bear with the infirmities of others. If the saints are not all you would like them to be, remember, nevertheless, that they are dear to the heart of Christ; and he, perhaps, sees in them beauties which you would see, too, if you had more beauties yourself. Perhaps your power to find fault arises from your having so many faults yourself; and if you were more sanctified, and more like Christ, you would fix your eye as well upon the beauties of their character as upon their defects. Show us the proof of your love. (Spurgeon #1522)

Show the proof of your love for Jesus by loving His Church, as well as the other things mentioned in the video-poem. His Church may not be perfect, but as the old wise man said, “It’s the only boat floatin’.”

Or if you really feel the need to be “hip,” think of it in terms of how Lecrae says it in his song, The Bride:

Verse 3: Some don't get it so they hate
They say she's on a paper chase, they say she's really fake
So they go start a ministry so they can do the work
But they don't understand how Jesus feel about His Church
And yeah they make disciples, got plenty conversions
They take care of the widows and the orphans, man they be workin'
But none of them are Church and no church structure
No elders and no discipline, they have no conductor
And they don't submit, but quite a few of them are baptized
People how I pray that you'd look at this thing from God's eyes
Take responsibility inside the whole council
Not just the area where you might have a mouthful
Who should folks submit to, who'll conduct the discipline?
If excommunicated, what body will they be missin' then?
Peep Ephesians 4 where Paul gets practical
1 Timothy and Titus if you thinkin' I'm irrational

I know she may look gritty
When her Man come back she gone look so pretty
She the Church
You might see her actin' crazy
Be patient with her though cause she still God's baby
She the Church
Before you diss her, get to know her
Jesus got a thing for her and He died just to show her
She the Church
She ain't bricks and buildings
She all of God's people, men women and children
We the Church


Persis said...

Good post, Scott.

The arguments sound good and pious, but it's just knocking down a straw man. Having been one who "loved Jesus but didn't need the church", I regret the years out of fellowship and looking down on other believers. Thank God for His mercy in restoring me to a local church.

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