Why is the Church Such a Big Deal?
So, what's the big deal about the church? The “what” you ask? The church – that building you are apt to drive by on your way to work every day and where people gather on Sunday mornings.
Maybe you haven't thought about that before, but it is good question; and it deserves a good answer. Something more than, “Oh I know”, “I might want to get married in one," or "It's got stunning architecture and provides for a great photo shoot." Or how about this one, "It’s a great spot for me to schmooze and make some business contacts."
Maybe you’re someone who has wondered about the relevance of the church today. Perhaps you have even wondered if the church is that significant in a day of high-level decisions and powerful international issues? I wouldn’t fault you if you have.
In our modern era of intercontinental missiles, stunning scientific discoveries, space exploration, and impressive technical advancements, how could a church full of people carry much significance?
It's not hard to be cynical when you picture a brilliant body of keen-thinking people wrestling over a decision that could impact a continent of humanity, compared to a few dozen people in some little white building singing "In the Sweet By and By” (that’s code words for heaven).
But, if you haven’t been selectively editing out passages in your Bible, then Matthew 16:18 still says the same thing. It still includes an unconditional promise from Jesus that the church is His personal project ("I will build My church") and that it will be invincible. No way will "the gates of hell" put it out of business.
When you digest that thought long enough, you begin to realize that the church has staying power. It’s not going away. Like an anvil that is impervious to all the hot items that are beat upon it, and no matter how impressive and loud and intimidating it all sounds, they will all ultimately cool off and be replaced. But the church will remain. Why? Because it holds a special place in our society that nothing else can. For example:
The church is the only organization that deals with life’s ultimate issues. Death. Judgment. Relationships. Purpose. Lasting priorities. Meaning in life. Identity. Heaven and Hell.
The church gives dignity to mankind. We live in a day in which people have become a means rather than an end. This creates a desperate sense of inner worthlessness. The church counteracts this insidious message, while things like abortion and euthanasia only highlight this lack of dignity and worth.
The church provides moral and ethical guidance amid relativism. Like a swamp of murky, slimy water, our society has either rethought, resisted, or completely rejected God’s moral absolutes. Not the church! It still stands on the timeless bedrock of Scripture. Why? Because God laws were not for spoiling our fun but for protecting us from the ravages of sin.
The church is the only place to find true community, healing, compassion, and love. It is here people care. Really care. Not because of status or money. But because the Spirit of God is at work, weaving together lives within the Body of Christ – the church.
The church stands alone and is like no other institution. It has provided motivation for the most lasting, unselfish, essential, courageous ministries on earth. Schools. Hospitals. Halfway houses. Orphanages. Leprosarium’s. and Missions.
Take a minute to consider that list. Meditate on each one. See if it doesn't thrill you to realize that if you are a apart of the church – you are connected to such a significant institution.
So, why am I making such an ado about the church? Well, besides the things in the list, I can think of only one other reason worth consideration. It is the church over which Jesus Christ says He rules as Head. He's in charge. Not General Motors. Not Air Canada. Not our parliament. Not the local fire station or police department or library or courtroom. Although important and helpful, these cannot claim His headship. Only the church can do so. Even with all its quirks and faults, it still ranks right up there at the top.
And why does it have quirks and faults, you ask? Because the church that Jesus was talking about building wasn’t one with wood or bricks. It wasn’t going to be finished like a building. It was a construction project that involved people – ordinary people like you and me. And I don’t need remind you how messy we can be. That “church” building you see in your community would just be a building, if it wasn’t for the people – the real church who meets there.
On Sundays, in those buildings referred to as churches, is when the Body (the church) and the Head (Jesus) meet to celebrate this mysterious union. It’s when ordinary, people like us gather in the presence of Jesus to worship Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We listen to his Word for encouragement and instruction. It’s here we pray for and support each other. It’s here we learn how to grow and become more like him. I don’t expect the person who is not a Christian to understand all of this. It will seem like foolishness to them as the Apostle Paul points out in 1 Cor. 1:25-28:
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
The world may look at the church and see foolishness. It may see messy people who are powerless, despised, and unimportant by this world’s standards. It may see their quirks and faults. But it was “God that chose these people, despised by the world and counted as nothing, and he used these people, his church, to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
No matter how it may appear to others, if the church is something God has chosen and God is pleased to use, it's a big deal. So, why not check one out. You'll fit right in. There are messy people there just like you.