They Go Together
They Go Together
I took a trip to Post Falls, Idaho a few years ago with some other pastors from this region of the country. We went there to visit True Life Ministries to examine their discipleship making processes. On Friday morning of our 4 day visit, Jim Putman, the Lead Pastor of True Life Ministries, spoke to a large group of us pastors and church leaders. I don’t remember everything he said but I remember a story he told. It went something like this:
I was raised in a home of a church planting pastor. Mom and Dad are awesome people. They are loving parents. But I grew weary and resentful from moving every couple of years and the way the so-called loving church frequently treated my parents and our family. As I came of the age to go off to college, I received a wresting scholarship and that became my focus. I walked away from God, the church and poured my life into wrestling and partied often with my friends. Sadly, I doubt if anyone recognized that I was a Christian and that I’d been raised in a Christian home.
As my senior year was in full swing, I began to evaluate my life. I had reason to be thankful. My wrestling career in college was successful but nearing the end. I was going to soon be graduating with a degree. But, nevertheless, I was miserable. About that time, I had a long conversation with my dad over the phone. I told him that I wanted to come back to God but I was never coming back to the church. In a split second, suddenly, my dad seemed to change the subject. Well, at least I thought so.
He told me that he received a call from a member of the church inviting him to a Christmas Party. However, he said your mother wasn’t invited. He also said the group decided that I was loved and respected but they didn’t care much for your mom. I stopped him in mid-sentence and expressed my outrage. I told him that I’d understand if mom was invited and you weren’t but this idea that mom isn’t invited is ridiculous. My dad responded by asking me if he should go to the party without mom. I told him in no uncertain terms that he shouldn’t go. He responded by asking why. I reasoned that he can’t allow mom to be disrespected like that and besides your married. You can’t go to a party without mom. She would be hurt if you didn’t take her along and left her home alone.
I didn’t see it coming but dad had set his trap and now I was about to get caught in it. He said, “you know son, I agree. Your mom and I go together in marriage like Jesus and the church go together. We’re both inseparable. If mom isn’t invited to the party, I’m not going either.” I sighed and realized dad had a point. I reluctantly admitted my mind needed to change about the church. Even though my feelings toward the church was still raw, I had to agree that Jesus and His church . . . they go together.
How about you? Did you know Jesus and His church go together? The statistics clearly show that many Christians don’t. At least, very few act like it. So how do we address the problem? Let’s start with a Biblically based definition of the church. The church is all of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord (ref. Romans 6:23; 10:9,13). The church is described as the “body of Christ” in 1 Corinthians 12 and the “bride of Christ” in Revelation 21. Furthermore, Jesus is clearly identified as the “head of the church” in Colossians 1. Jesus is also the one who builds the church as recorded in Matthew 16. Furthermore. the local church is portrayed as a group of people operating like a family in Acts 2. Therefore, based on this definition, supported by Biblical references, we can conclude that the church isn’t a building and isn’t confined to a weekly worship service. Although, it goes without saying, the weekly corporate worship services are significant.
We also know the church has a purpose or a mission. The mission of the church is “making disciples” as recorded in Matthew 28. We know this particular passage as the Great Commission. Besides, this is more than an organizational mission. It is, in fact, a personal mission. We are individually and collectively called to help people come to Christ by faith, grow in their faith and connect with the church and become disciple makers. Can a group of people call themselves a church if they aren’t executing the mission? Wouldn’t that be the same ludicrous claim that you are a member of a football team that never takes the field? So then, what constitutes a church or a team? What you actually do, right?
Now that we’ve established that making disciples is the mission of the church, there is also the matter of the health and function of the overall local church. In fact, every genuine believer in Christ has been gifted by the Holy Spirit with a spiritual gift to “build up the body of Christ.” The Apostle Paul clearly describes this gifting in Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. In short, we all have a role within the family of the local church. In other words, you have a position on the team. If you’re still unclear, Paul explains that Christians make up the body of Christ and we each serve as a body part with a clear and distinct function. What happens to a family that are missing members? What happens to a team that are missing teammates? What happens to a body this is missing parts? You guessed it. The same dysfunction is the result of absent Christians or ones settling for the role of spectator in the local church.
I needed to go to Post Falls to catch a vision of how to apply the Great Commission. But, as you can see, I got much more. My love for the church was revived. I was reminded to see the church through the eyes of Jesus. After all, He sees the church as his bride. I also began to see each Christian as the church or at least vital part of the body. Altogether, Jesus and His church go together like the marriage of a husband with a wife. In every way, the church and Jesus are connected. So let me wrap this up by saying, “be the church my friends.”
A Working in Progress,