“Church.” Depending on your vantage point that very word carries a lot of weight. For some it is a word of intense pain, for others, it is pillowy soft. the church disappointed me. The church hurt me. The church came to my side. The church supported me. The church abandoned me. The church saw me through the roughest days of my life. The church ostracized me. The church is my family.
The church of Jesus is not very popular with some today. Some politicians don’t like churches because we don’t pay taxes. Others despise the church because they were scarred by somebody in the church years ago, and they believe everybody in the church is a hypocrite. Many believe the church is judgmental and narrow and therefore don’t like it. There are those who are a part of the church but who seem to have a love/hate relationship with it.
I have chosen to love the church and here is why:
(Note, I could give a very cleaned up “churchy” list, i.e. Because of its founder, because it is where the saved of God are)
- I love the church because the Bible tells me to: For some of you that may be hard to swallow but I’ve tried to live my life without a guide and it just gets me in a mess. And the world’s most proven and reliable guide is the Bible. So when Peter in his epistle says “love each other deeply” I have made a decision to do that.
- I love the church because it is where I can fail safely: Everyone – EVERY ONE who is a member of the church has admitted in the admission exam that they are sinners. Repentance from sin is a part of God’s plan. So in so doing, you are saying, I am human, I make mistakes, I fail. Sometimes churches get in the way of themselves and appear to be cleaned up too much. We are only clean in the sense that we have the continual cleaning from Jesus. I admit because sometimes church ends up looking more like a display case of trophies than a rescue site from sin that that is hard to love. But again, I have made a decision to do that.
- I love the church because it is where I can ask questions without repercussions: There are those who think you can’t ask questions in the church. I dare you, try it. Ask away. God invites investigation, i.e. Psalm 8:3. Now, the world seems to think this is not so, but oddly, it is the intelligencia of the world that will shoot you down. Try that. Find an atheistic scientist, professor, lecturer and question him. Suggest to her that God might be real. Ask them if there is any possibility they might be wrong. Then, get out of the way!
- I love the church because I can have fun with the people there without feeling dirty or mean. Yes, there are rules. Guess what there are everywhere. Even places that tout there are no rules. Try it, go to Little Caesars (just the most recent place to try the “there are no rules” marketing ploy) and try to go behind the counter and start dipping in the pizza sauce with your hand multiple times and drinking, open the register and take out all the cash – there are rules everywhere. Yes, there are rules in churches but those rules are ones that lead to greater long-term health and happiness. Leonard Sweet in The Gospel According to Starbucks, suggests that you may find more genuine fellowship in your church than anywhere else. When I go home from a night out with my brothers I don’t have to wonder if I committed a crime, harmed another, lost my wit and did something that when I am sober I’ll regret. I’m not suggesting that Christians never sin together but my experience says that long-term good memory fun comes here. I love the church because I love the people in the church – the flawed but faith-filled people who are IT.
- I love the church because it gives me instant family: Imagine you are on the road traveling in a city you don’t know well and you run out of gas. It’s late and the stations are closed. It feels like a rough side of town. Your family is in the car and it’s 11:45 at night. Your heart is racing and you see a group of 4 or 5 guys coming down the street toward you. What’s that in their hand? A gun, no, it’s a Bible! Would you feel better if you knew they had just come from a bar or a Bible study? I imagine you can answer that one quickly. I love that I can go anywhere and have instant family and friends and help if there is a local church there.
- I love the church because it does good: Tornado, flood, earthquake, wreck, broken home or broken heart, big disaster or small collapse the church comes through. It is not the corner bar, the Muslim mosque, the local association of atheists but it is the church. Same with inner city relief organizations. Check out most of the higher institutions of learning – they were started by people of faith. Research the history of healthcare and hospitals – they were started by believers. Who constantly visits with and conducts services for those in prison? The church. Who establishes crisis pregnancy centers to help women in desperation? The church. Who teaches the moral values that undergird ethics in business? The church. Who taught many of us older people, long before the Civil Rights Movement, to sing, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world”? It was the church. Who feeds the poor in your community? The church. When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, who was there first with the most practical help? Who sent the most money without scraping any off the top? Who’s still there today? The church. Whether national disaster or local emergency you’ll see God’s Family step forward, yearning to help!
“Thank You, Father, that Jesus loved the church with His life. Even though we stumble and have our share of black-eyes and wrinkles, He loves us anyway. We’ve been cleansed by the washing of water through the Word. May the church strive to be a worthy bride for the coming groom. In Jesus’s name, Amen.”
Dale has preached for 40 years and is currently blessed to work with the Spring Meadows Church of Christ in Spring Hill, TN. He and his brother Jeff run TheJenkinsInstitute.com that provides multiple resources for ministers and churches.
I love the church because:
God planned and designed it. The church of Christ was established in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 2:2-3; Acts 2). This church would have a distinctive founder, builder, head, body, mission, plan of salvation, membership, worship, name, doctrine, and work (Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:20; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 4:4; Mark 16:15; Acts 2:38; Acts 2:47; John 4:24; Acts 11:26; Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 15:58). The church of Christ is the church of the New Testament.
Christ purchased it. Inspiration teaches, “There is one body…” (Ephesians 4:4). What is the one body? We can stay in the book of Ephesians and answer the question. “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (1:22-23). Paul is teaching exactly what Jesus Christ taught. Our Lord said He would build His church, (Matthew 16:18) which is the one body. It is built upon the one foundation, Jesus Christ (2:20; 1 Corinthians 3:1). Jesus is head and savior of the body, the church: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). The church is under the authority of Christ: “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ…” (Ephesians 5:24). Jesus loves His body, the church: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:25, 29). Christ died for the church: “…even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
I am a member of the body. “For we are members of his body…” (Ephesians 5:30; Acts 2:47). We are reconciled to God in the one body: “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:16). We are to have unity and growth in the body (Ephesians 4:16).
The relationships within the church strengthen me. The spiritual, emotional, physical, social, recreational, and intellectual parts of life are shared with brothers and sisters within the church on different levels.
Love (agape) serves as the example from the Godhead and is to be exhibited among the children of God in the church. We are blessed with relationships with those who have the same spiritual goals and who serve under the same Head, Jesus Christ.
It’s mission is to fulfill the statement of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20. We have one mission; to make known “the manifold wisdom of God” (3:10). God desires the salvation of the world and the church is to preach the gospel to every one.
We Believe the Bible. We believe the Bible to be the verbally, inspired, inerrant, plenary, Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We believe the Bible to be our only authority in religious matters (Colossians 3:17).
It faithfully proclaims how to be saved. The Bible teaches us that we are saved by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5, 8-10). In order for man to get into the grace of God, he must do his part which is through faith (Ephesians 2:8). The Bible teaches that we must hear the word of God (Romans 10:17). After hearing the word of God we must develop a working faith (James 2:14-26). Then we are commanded to repent (Acts 17:30). The Scriptures then instruct us to confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37), and be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Romans 6:1-4).By obeying the gospel plan of salvation we have forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, membership in the church of Christ, and are made heirs to the blessings found in Jesus Christ. This makes us a Christian only.
It is restoration minded. The Lord’s Church is not perfect on the human side and is always in need of improvement. The church of Christ pleads for a return to New Testament Christianity. Our goal is to speak where the Bible speaks and keep silent where it is silent, calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
A native of Ohio, Steve has been preaching for over 27 years serving as full-time minister in congregations in Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, and South Carolina. He is currently serving as one of the ministers for the church of Christ at Gold Hill Road in Fort Mill, SC. After graduating James A. Garfield High School, he completed a B. S. degree in Business and Ethics at Asbury University (Wilmore, KY) and the M. A. Min., from Freed-Hardeman University.
Steve and his wife Deanna have two children and are enjoying their first grandchild, Maisy. He enjoys books, research, writing, Church / Restoration History playing and listening to vintage Country and Bluegrass music, collecting vintage country music memorabilia and photography.
My name is Mandy Heard. I am thirty-eight years old. I have been a member of The Lord’s Church since I was fifteen. However, recently I began to second guess my baptism. Did I do it for me, or for My Lord? Was it because I thought I was earning my salvation by going through motions? To remove all doubt, I made my way down the aisle and was baptized a second time. This time, it wasn’t done out of fear of hell’s fire. It was done out of love and appreciation for My Jesus and the desire to be identified as His Church. Which leads me to the purpose of this article…who or what is the blood-bought Church, and what do I love about it?
First of all, the word “church” comes from a Greek word “ekklesia” which is defined as “an assembly” or “called ones.” So you see, the Church is not a building, but a body of believers.
Now, I mentioned to you already that I have been a member of the Church for a long time. I have grown up being taught from these Biblical principles. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled with identifying who the Church is.
You see, my friends are from many different denominational backgrounds. My friends and I pray together. We have attended Christian based conferences and events together. I do my best to encourage them, and they most definitely encourage me. I do consider my friends to be believers, and I know they love Jesus just as I do.
People often ask, “What’s the difference in the Church of Christ” and other denominations. Most people first recognize that we have no instruments. Others may notice our weekly participation in The Lord’s Supper. And while these are noticeable differences that others may recognize, I have noticed something else that has begun to decrease my confusion regarding who The Church is.
I have recognized in most denominational churches; there seems to be some disagreement or confusion about how they operate. They are usually based off opinions, ideas, or what they’ve learned from other organizations. There seem to be issues that arise based on change. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever, so why would we expect His Church to be different?
While these opinions and ideas are not always bad, they can make things quite interesting. They can draw others in; they can make things fun and exciting but eventually, comes conflict and confusion. Why? Because they are ideas of “good people,” but not from God The Father. Only God has the authority to direct and lead The Church. Any other assumed authorities will fail. It’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s coming.
Only what God authorizes will stand.
Matthew 16:18- “…upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
You see friends; God is not the author of confusion. The meaning of The Church wasn’t meant to be complicated.
1 Corinthians 14:33- “…for God is not a God of disorder…”
We have all that we need to fulfill our purpose within The Church. We are equipped. We don’t have to figure out the right way and the wrong way. We just have to know God’s way.
Hebrews 13:21- “…”may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.”
We have been given an example by the early church. Why fix what is not broken?
We don’t have to add to it or take away from it. Simply follow it.
My husband and I have been blessed with two amazingly wonderful, yet hormonal teenagers. Now if you’re a parent, you understand the need for boundaries and rules. What would happen if there were none? Anything goes. Stay out as long as you like. Eat what you want. Go ahead, if it feels good, do it. How long would that last? Eventually, our family would crumble. Wouldn’t it?
Guess what? So will the Church.
Often, the Church of Christ is accused of being legalistic. I’ll be real with ya. I’ve struggled with believing this myself at times. But a few weeks ago, my favorite preacher helped me understand this a bit better. Legalism comes about when we act on our own behalf. In other words, it benefits us in some way by following the rules…but, obedience is when we act out of love, honor and for the Lord’s sake. You see, our salvation has been bought and paid for with a price we can never repay. We don’t work for our salvation, but because of it.
So to sum things up, I guess I love the Church because My Jesus first loved me.
May God bless you and keep you!
Mandy Heard is married to Jamie Heard. They have 2 teenage children, Anslee and Cain. Mandy is a home health nurse and considers her job to be an opportunity for ministry. She enjoys sharing with others how Christ has changed her life. She is a member of Roanoke Church of Christ.
I love the Church of Christ because of the beauty and simplicity of the doctrine which comes directly from the Bible. To understand my love for the Church, one would have to understand my conversion.
I grew up a staunch Methodist. My mother raised me that way as did her mother. Anything I could do, I did. I was not a lukewarm Methodist. It was my intent in college to attend seminary and go to Liberia in West Africa to be a missionary. I had two other roommates in college. One was the son of a Baptist preacher and the other was from the Church of Christ. Baptist and Methodist were the dominant churches in the area and I knew nothing about the Church of Christ.
We were good friends except when we got on each other’s nerves. One thing we did regularly was to sit in the commons room and discuss religion. It is the intent of most men to win religious battles and I was no exception. The question that stumped me the most for my roommate from the Church of Christ was: “Where do you find that in the Bible”? For example, “Where do you find Christians partaking of the Lord’s Supper quarterly and on special days?” After all, the Bible says in Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” When did the disciples break bread (have the Lord’s Supper)? On the first day of the week which was Sunday. Which Sunday? Every Sunday. So on the weekends when I came home I would wear a trail to my preacher’s house which was next door and we talked about this topic. “Well”, he would say, “That’s the way they did it back then in the Bible but as Methodist we have specific days to have it.” Check one for the Church of Christ for biblical accuracy. But I was determined to win the war.
Our next battle would be over titles like Reverend. Here we go again. “Where do you find that in the Bible?” he would ask. So there I went to my preacher for the answers. “Well”, he would say, “They didn’t use titles like we use them today. It’s a Methodist thing to help distinguish between the different roles.” “Humm”, I thought. “It’s not in the Bible but we use them today?” I found it interesting that not even the apostles were called Reverend. Check two for the Church of Christ for biblical accuracy. But still I was determined to win the war.
The next battle would be fought over special clothing and the clergy / laity system. Here we go again. “Where do you find that in the Bible?” I could not think of any place but surely my preacher would know. “No, it can’t be found in the Bible” he said. “All the special robes and the clergy / laity system kind of evolved over the centuries to what you see today.” So I’m thinking to myself, “All of this is not in the Bible but we are doing it today?” I’m starting to see a trend. The only thing I could reason is that the system developed that way to elevate some above the masses to make them feel special, superior or more holy than others. I remembered in Acts 10:25-26 where it says, “As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” I think men and women like the lofty positions that the religions of today have made for them. Check three for the Church of Christ guy. But I was still determined to win or at least put a chink in his armor that would close his mouth.
Other battles were fought and months passed by but the biggest one was over the importance of baptism for one’s salvation. Finally, I thought. At least this was one point that we would agree upon. After all, I was baptized (sprinkled) when I was several months old. I even had the card from it and it said “Baptism” on the outside. Then came the question “Where do you find babies being baptized in the Bible.” This time I had an answer for him from the Bible. The Bible says in Acts 16:15, “And when she (Lydia) and her household were baptized…”. Besides, in the case of the Philippian jailer that “he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33). See their “household” and their “family” were baptized. There must have been babies there. “How do you know?”, came the response. After all, one who comes to the Lord must come repenting of their sins (Luke 13:3, 5 and confessing (Romans 10:9). A baby can neither repent nor confess. Baptism is for those who are old enough to understand the commitment they are making to the Lord. That made sense.
Besides he said, “Baptism is always an immersion or burial (Romans 6:3-6) in water. It was never a sprinkling and the purpose of baptism was for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38; 22:16). This was a big one because it was not only a religious argument but it affected my very own salvation. So there I go back to my preacher with this wagon load of doctrine to sort out. This took time but most of the answers came back in silent or in snappy little jokes. Finally it got down to the point when I said, “I want to be baptized just like they were in the Bible, by immersion, and for the remission of my sins.”
So we agreed the following weekend when I came home we would go down to the river and he would baptize me. Next week came and so did the excuse that he could not do it that weekend but to come back the following weekend. This happened two more weekends. Seeing that I would not be deterred, he finally said, “Find someone else to do it. If people found out that I baptized (immersed) you for the remission of your sins, I could get in trouble.” I was floored and greatly disappointed. Why could he not do what the Bible clearly stated must be done for salvation, my salvation? It was then that I realized that the church in which I had devoted all of my young life to was not built on God’s word but upon human traditions.
I left there because it is so much easier and reassuring to follow God’s word, book, chapter and verse than it is to defend the traditions of men and cross my fingers and hope that God would save me. I love the Church of Christ because I can know that when I follow God’s word that I can be saved. 1 John 5:13 says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…” I pray that you are never content with man’s traditions but that you too will come to love the beauty and simplicity of God’s word that is found in the Church of Christ.
Roy Knight is the minister for the St. George church of Christ located in St. George, South Carolina. Roy also has a weekly podcast entitled, “The Christian Gentleman” located at http://thechristiangentleman.podbean.com/
Personal Note: I appreciate Roy’s words and thoughts on his love for the church. Since meeting Roy for the first time, I have respect for his work and words. Roy has a great heart for the church and a great knowledge. His work in the coastal South Carolina area has been a benefit to the Kingdom and the churches in the area.
The Sermon on the Mount is definitely one of the greatest messages ever known to mankind. The words of Jesus have a transforming power when practiced. His words were living, active and life changing to the audience of His day and they can be the same for our generations as well.
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