The word “church” means different things to different people. Some people recall their childhood days of being dragged while kicking and screaming to church by their parents or grandparents. Church for some is a time to have a rock concert with the Lord’s permission. Others, when they hear of church, think of a group of stuck up people who pretend to have it altogether but are full of hypocrisy. Still, there are those who think of church as the best people they have ever known and some of the richest spiritual experiences they have ever enjoyed.
While we all have our own thoughts concerning church, much of what is taught and believed concerning the church in our current culture is wrong. However, something is not wrong biblically because a blogger gets behind a computer and says it is. The Bible needs to be our standard in matters of religion. The Bible has more to say about the church than most people are willing to acknowledge. Maybe you have been misinformed about the church. Perhaps you have had some bad experiences. Let me share with you some lies often taught and promoted concerning the church and share the biblical truth concerning these lies. Jesus came so that we would know the truth about him and all things pertaining to God (Jn. 8:31-32). Let’s go to the Bible to discover the truth about the church.
1. I don’t have to be a member of any church
It seems every Sunday someone gets on Facebook and says that they are having church at home. Maybe you have heard it expressed this way: “I have a personal relationship with God and I don’t need the church.” While it is true that there are personal aspects to our relationship with God, it is false that our membership to the church is optional. When most people think about Jesus dying on the cross, they readily confess that he died for our sins, and this is true (Mt. 26:28). However, few realize that Jesus also died to purchase the church (Acts 20:28). If Jesus thought enough of the church to die for it, it should not be passed off as some optional matter. Furthermore, when people became Christians in the first century, they were added to the church by God (Acts 2:47). They became a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:18). Jesus is coming back to save the church (Eph. 5:25-27). When Jesus returns for His church, I wouldn’t want to have to confess to him that I was on an island with myself rather than in his saving body.
2. It doesn’t matter what church I become a member of
While some acknowledge the importance of the church, some mistakenly believe that all churches are created equally. There is a thought that suggests that one church is as good as another. The truth is, it matters what church I become a member of. Jesus promised his disciples that he would build a church and that death would not prevent him from accomplishing this task (Mt. 16:18-19). When people became Christians in the first century, they did not go church shopping or try and find the church of their choice. There was only one church of which people could become members then and be pleasing to God, and the same is true today. The Bible describes the church as the body of Christ (Eph. 1:21-23). The Bible also affirms that there is only one body (1 Cor. 12:20; Eph. 4:4-6). Jesus prayed that his followers would all be one, in contrast to the multitude of denominations around us today (Jn. 17:20-21). The church is metaphorically pictured as the bride of Christ. If all churches are Christ’s bride, this makes Jesus one of the biggest polygamist of all time (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25). I need to find the church that aligns with the New Testament in doctrine, devotion, and service and become a member of that church. Do not believe the lie that it does not matter what church you belong to. Jesus is described as the Savior of the body, not the savior of the bodies (Eph.5:23). Find the church Jesus built and allow God to add you to it.
3. The church is the building
So many people think church is somewhere they go. The Bible never describes the church as a building. The church is described as the group of people belonging to Christ (Rom. 16:16). The church is mentioned in the New Testament as the household of God (1 Tim. 3:15), and the body of Christ (Col. 1:18). The church is never mentioned as a building. The church is the people that are redeemed and therefore make up Christ’s body. While the church is commanded to assemble and a building is an expedient way to do this, the church shouldn’t be confused for somewhere we go. This may seem like a harmless lie or misrepresentation of the church, but when people believe the church is the building they tend to place geographical limitations on their service to God. If the church is just the building, then I can just turn my Christianity on and off at will. As long as we behave on Sunday we may be fooled into thinking that we are the right kind of people. The church is not the building, and we represent Jesus everywhere we go and need to be sure to be the salt that flavors the life of the lost and the light that points the way back to God (Mt. 5:13-16).
4. The church is filled with hypocrites
We have all heard this one before. The church is filled with hypocrites! Most people that say that want to use it as a smoke screen to dismiss themselves from church membership. Those who use the hypocrite line as a reason for their absence do not do the same with the grocery store, football games, school, or work. Hypocrites frequent many places but we only seem to let them hinder the spiritual aspect of our lives. The truth is that the church is filled with people that realized sin was destroying their lives and the only way to fix this problem was Jesus. Are there some who are one thing in the presence of Christians and behave another way in the world? Of course. Yet, we should not allow the inconsistency of some to blind us to the overall picture of the church. The church at Corinth had many problems: sexual immorality (1 Cor. 5), misunderstandings about idolatry and marriage (1 Cor. 7 and 8), and wrong views concerning the resurrection (1 Cor. 15). When Paul writes his letter to them he does not call them phony hypocrites who misrepresent Jesus. Paul says that they are saints that are sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Cor.1:2). Christians need to be confronted about their sin just like anybody else, but the church is not full of hypocrites. The church is full of people that still have short comings but as we walk in the light and confess our sins Jesus cleanses our failings (1 Jn.1:7-9)
The church has been the easy target for many who want to reject Christianity. The Bible is clear concerning the church, though men often distort this view. Let us go to the Bible that describes the church to get our views about the church. The Bible equips us with everything we need, and it even tells us the truth about the church. The church is not an optional social club; neither is it something I can pick like a sports team. The church is not a place I go and the church is not filled with hypocrites. The church is the bride of Christ that Jesus died for. Let us cherish and respect her (2 Cor. 11:2).