The Church is the bride of Christ that he died for and that he is returning for. I hope that that includes you and I am 99.7% sure that it includes me—blast that .3% of me that allows doubt to visit from time to time. The Church gathers together to encourage one another because, obviously, this life is tough and we need help.
But, when I say we “encourage” one another I don’t mean that we encourage one another to just hang in there and keep your chin up while we endure the messiness of life on our way to heaven. I mean that we encourage one another to obey the commands that Jesus gave us. That’s what we want to do, right? Out of our love for him, we want to do whatever it is that good disciples do and that, frankly, is much less complicated than one would think. As the Church, our main tasks are to, 1) care for hurting people and to, 2) advance the gospel to the ends of the earth.
A very important purpose of the church is for us to encourage one another on to good works--caring for the needy and advancing the gospel to the ends of the earth.
At this point, let’s take a good look at those two points, caring for hurting people and evangelizing the world, and then let’s bring to mind all of the things that a modern-day church does besides those two things. Here is some stuff right off the top of my head: Build a church building. Hire a preacher and church staff. Make sure there is great music. Make the church building environment as comfortable as possible (a/c and heating). Sit in rows, not facing each other so that we can encourage one another and pray together for the poor and the lost, but facing a stage. Spend lots and lots of time singing along with the band and listening to a preacher.
If you have been doing church this way your whole life, then it may be difficult to see the problem here but think about it. Most churches are spending most of their money, time and energy doing things that have nothing to do with helping hurting people or evangelizing the world. This way is largely, if not totally, selfish. We are already going to heaven so why are we doing everything for ourselves in the midst of a hurting and lost world?
Here is what I think is going on. Starting with the very first gathering of disciples, Satan snuck in and started influencing them so that they wouldn’t obey Jesus. He works through subtle lies and distractions so that, 2000 years later he has us mostly doing stuff that is not focused on God’s Kingdom but on our own kingdom. We, the modern-day Church, have inherited a dysfunctional legacy. Our generation didn’t start these things. It goes way back, all the way to the beginning of the Church.
Main point: Most of the things that the modern-day church does have nothing to do with obeying the commands of Jesus to care for hurting people and evangelizing the world.
So what: You need to decide if you are going to continue to get sucked into this dysfunctional legacy or if you are going to get out and help others to do the same.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.