Can you love Christ and hate his Church?

The blogosphere is filled with posts on “Why I Hate the Church.”

Some have valid points painfully writing how a specific church has abused, coerced, hurt, manipulated, and in some cases, leaders have sexually assaulted them. The Barna Group cites five specific reasons Millennials in particular have stopped attending church:

1. The church is irrelevant; the leaders are hypocritical and leaders have experienced too much moral failure.

2. God is missing in the church.

3. Legitimate doubt is prohibited.

4. They’re not learning about God.

5. They’re not finding community

The Church is tragically imperfect, but it is triumphantly imperishable as the Bible describes it as Christ’s home, the Bride of Christ, the family of God and the Body of Christ.

Here’s why early church leaders urged believers to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).

The Church is . . . the place Jesus called home

When Jesus was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem at 12 years of age, his parents left without him, assuming he was traveling in their caravan.

    Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

    His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

    “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:46-49).

While on earth, Jesus regularly attended “church,” which at that time were the synagogues and the Temple in Jerusalem:

    When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures (Luke 4:16, emphasis mine).

The Church is . . . the Bride of Christ

    As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one (Ephesians 5:31-32).

    For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
    and his bride has prepared herself.
    She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”
    For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people (Revelation 19:7b-8).

Okay, the Church may not be pure as the driven snow, but the Bible describes the God/human relationship in terms of marriage and in the final book of the Bible describes the Church as the Bride of Christ.

The Church is . . . the Family of God

    And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).

Anyone who claims he or she can be a Christian without Christ’s church is simply disobeying Scripture’s command to meet with other believers. Jesus himself made it very clear:

    “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20).

The church is . . . the Body of Christ

The apostle Paul describes the Church as Christ’s Body:

    The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

    All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Yes, the Church is tragically imperfect. So, if you’re in a local church that is not in line with the commands to love one another (and even our enemies), to treat one other with dignity and respect, or any other moral laws of the Bible, then do get out. Find a church that will love you unconditionally, be willing to listen to your faith questions, and support you in your spiritual journey with encouragement and instruction in living for Christ.

Note I’m writing this post as the Church calendar nears Pentecost Sunday which celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit and the creation of Christ’s home, the Bride of Christ, the family of God and the Body of Christ: the Church!

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

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jameswatkins

Author and speaker

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