We are live in a very interesting time with regard to church. So many of the different churches are losing members all the time. It is pretty common to hear someone say, “We don’t have any young people in the church where I am a member.” Others talk about the fears they have for the future of the church. It also seems there is a new church of some sort being started every few weeks. Besides that churches that have been strong, united and growing, suddenly face lots of members that are unhappy because there is something they want that isn’t happening. Often the result is the church tries to react to the longing for something different by trying to change to make those who are unhappy become happy, the result is that many of the ones who liked things the way they are become unhappy and end up leaving to either find a place that looks like what they want or they set out to start one like they like. The result is that the churches all over are struggling and wondering what to do. Everyone seems to have some special things they are looking for from church and look for a church that fits that standard.
One question I would like to encourage every person to think about if they are on a church search or maybe even if they aren’t. Does it matter what the Lord wants in the church? Sometimes it seems that we are so carried away with what we want or like that it makes no difference with the Lord and that every kind of church that does everything people like is fine with him. I suspect it would be worth a ton if every person who is doing a search for a church that fits them if they took the time to read Revelation chapters 2 and 3. These two chapters of the Bible pictures Jesus writing letters to seven different congregations that were part of what we know as Asia Minor today. Some of these are old churches that had been strong in days past and others were younger and newer. It is amazing that most of these churches have both some good in them and some that don’t please God at all. Many of these churches thought of themselves as great churches doing wonderful work and very pleasing to God. Some of these same churches were told that if they didn’t repent they would lose their place as a church of God. One that believed it was rich, increased with goods and in need of nothing were told by God that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. They had Jesus outside knocking to get them to open the door for him to come in. So, one powerful lesson we all need to get is that the church that fits me, may not fit the Lord and He is the one we want to please.
It is vital that we remember that the church is the body of Christ. He was the one who built the church. He is the one who adds people to the church that belong to him. He purchased the church with his blood on the cross. While the church is the body of Christ, there is only one body. I fully realize the different congregations in different places were different from each other in some ways. But there have always been fundamentals that God placed in the church that has to be there for it to be acceptable to Him. Far too often we act as though all that matters is what we like. But it should be clear that we didn’t build the church, didn’t die to bring it into being, and it isn’t our body. Think of Ephesians 5:25-27 for a moment. “Husbands, love your wives, just like Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of water by the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” He even challenged us to “glorify God in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”
So, what if we started asking what the Lord wants for us in regard to church instead of what we like or want? If we listen to Jesus it won’t take long for us to realize that Jesus prayed that those who became his followers would all be one as he and the Father are one, that the disciples might be one in God and Christ so that the world might believe that the Father had sent him (John 17:20-21). When we look at the division that has become so common that churches divide over every kind of difference imaginable, it is certainly no wonder why there is so much unbelief in the world. Every year more people declare they are not religious and have no faith in God. What becomes even more troubling is that most of these new churches and divisions spend most of their time and effort trying to steal members from other churches instead of trying to win the lost to Christ. The church is supposed to be a mission to the world to bring the lost to Christ. When we lose sight of the mission we stop being the church that belongs to Christ.
It is time to put Christ back on the throne when it comes to church and who we are as his people. If what I want is not what God calls me to be, I am the one that needs to change, not ask the God of glory to change.