If you pay attention to the headlines and the “talking heads,” you would get the impression that the church is in trouble. More and more people seem to be leaving churches, seeking out their own “spirituality.” Signs everywhere encourage you to “go the church of your choice.” Many churches seem to be outdoing each other, trying to appeal to you, accommodating your every want. Plenty declare that the church is irrelevant and unnecessary today: in their minds, you can serve Christ without being part of a church. Are these people right? Has the church been made irrelevant in the twenty-first century?
When we turn to the New Testament, however, an entirely different picture emerges. God sets forth many reasons why the church remains important after two thousand years.
The church matters because it represents the Body of Christ. The image of the church as a body is found in Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-28; this body is identified as the body of Christ in Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23-33 and Colossians 1:18. God chooses this image for good reason: only those who are part of Christ’s body have a share in Jesus, and outside of the Body of Christ there is no life! Just as we recognize that no physical creature can exist without a body, so we must understand that we cannot have spiritual life without being part of Christ’s body!
Furthermore, since Christ is the Head of the body (Ephesians 1:22-23), and the body must follow all the dictates and purposes of the head, so the church must follow the will of Christ in all things.
Therefore, the church matters because it must be the pillar and support of the truth, as Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:15. A church that does not reflect the “one body,” “one faith,” “one Lord,” and “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:4-6 is not serving Christ and following His direction. Any organization that does not follow Christ and the Apostles in all that they preached and practiced does not belong to God or Christ, and will be uprooted on the last day (Matthew 15:13). While it may be fashionable to promote attending the “church of your choice,” we instead should promote attending the “church of God’s choice” so that we may be saved!
The church matters because it is part of God’s plan, as it is written:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10-11).
God’s manifold wisdom is made known through the church! In the church, all men (and women) can be one through Jesus Christ, no matter their color, social status, previous affiliations, or any other mark of identification (Galatians 3:28)! Everyone is welcomed to become part of something greater than themselves, to serve God’s eternal purpose, and to have a share in the inheritance of the saints!
While Americans especially may value the “Lone Ranger” mentality, and believe that they can go at it all by themselves and “raise themselves up by their own bootstraps,” God exposes this as folly. Going at it alone only makes us easier prey for the Adversary that roams about (1 Peter 5:8). Such is why God intends fellow believers to share in association with one another in order to encourage one another and to build each other up in love (1 John 1:5-7, Ephesians 4:11-16, Hebrews 10:24-25). Fellow Christians are to be there to share in life’s ups and downs, and then you also can build others up during their ups and downs.
Does the church always live up to God’s intentions for it? No, it does not, since it represents fallible people who still fall prey to sin and worldly temptations (1 John 1:8-10). Yet such is the condition of anything that involves people!
Nevertheless, what other religious organization has been as inclusive from the beginning? Where else can hope and encouragement both for life today and for life eternal be found? Where else can someone find complete acceptance and warmth for no other reason than that they are fellow human beings and able to partake in the same spiritual blessings?
Unfortunately, too many people see various churches at their worst, and then believe the entire concept irrelevant. We ask you to please consider God’s intentions for the church, and seek out a group of people that are trying to live up to those intentions, promoting God’s truth in the community while showing great love, care, and compassion for one another and all men (Galatians 6:10). We encourage you to become a part of the only eternal organization that exists among mankind– the Church of Christ. In the Church of Christ, you will find acceptance no matter who you have been or what you have done, and you can have a share in God and the encouragement of fellow believers. Please join us in serving God today!