In Matthew 16 Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” The disciples responded by sharing what folks around Jerusalem were saying. Not satisfied, Jesus asked, “But what about you…who do you say I am?” Never-slow-to-speak Peter responded with his strongest declaration recorded in Scripture: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” About this declaration Jesus went on to say, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18)
Indeed, the gates of Hades have yet to overcome the church of Jesus Christ! The church, instituted by Jesus, launched with the great commission, and sustained by the Holy Spirit has been attacked (from without and within), harassed, spoken ill of, subjected to never-ending criticism, and misunderstood for over 2000 years, yet she stands as strong as ever on the rock of Jesus Christ and His mission and purposes.
Despite the reality that many in our modern world think ill of the church, including many Christians, I love God’s church for the following reasons:
- The Church belongs to God, not man. The church, universal and local, exists because of God, for God, and empowered by God. Though the church is made of people, the church does not belong to people. While I often say things like, “this is MY church,” the reality is that the church belongs to God alone. And if the church belongs to God, in His timing and according to His will He will defend and extend the church until the day that Christ returns.
- The Church is made of people. The church would be a boring place if I were the only person present in it. Thankfully, the church is a gathering place for those who have trusted in Jesus for salvation. As such, the church is a diverse body. A body in which people from different places, backgrounds, and seasons of life, with different preferences and gifts and abilities can converge together in Holy Spirit initiated unity for the sake of glorifying God, growing up into mature followers of Jesus, and fulfilling God’s great commission. The church is the place in which I, with fellow Christ-followers, can engage in the worship and purposes of God.
- The Church is NEVER-changing and EVER-changing. The church is NEVER-changing in that the rock on which the church is built and the mission for which it exists has and will never change. That Jesus is the rock, and that God’s purposes as revealed by Jesus in the great commandment and great commission (evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, & worship) are without expiration, guarantee that the church’s reason for existence is NEVER-changing. But the methods through which the church accomplishes its reason for existence are EVER-changing. While Jesus is the rock, and He established the purposes on which the church is built, the methods through which the church functions have not been specifically prescribed. The core components of musical (AND lifestyle) worship, preaching & teaching of the Word, fellowship, and missions & ministry are commanded but not spelled out in detail. Why? As Paul described in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, the context and world in which we live will always be changing. And as changes occur, the methods through which we accomplish our God-given purposes can (and should) change too. As a result, style changes, but the truth of God’s Word and command to worship does not. Facilities shrink and grow larger, but the charge to go and make disciples does not. Programs start strong and fizzle out, but the ministry or mission that they accomplish does not. The rock on which the church is built and the mission and purposes for which it exists is NEVER-changing, but the methods through which they are accomplished is ever-changing.
While there are many reason why I love God’s church, these are a few that top my list. What are additional reasons for why you love God’s church?