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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



A failure to see can lead to painful results. A vampire bat came flapping in from the night covered in fresh blood and parked himself on the roof of the cave to get some sleep. Pretty soon all the other bats smelled the blood and began hassling him about where he got it. He told them to go way and let him get some sleep, but they pressed him until finally he gave in. "OK, follow me," he said, and he flew out of the cave with thousands of other bats behind him. Down the mountainside, through a valley, across a river, and into a forest full of trees they went. Finally he slowed down and all the other bats swarmed excitedly about him. "Now, do you see that tree over there?" he asked. "Yes, yes, yes!" all the bats cried in excited frenzy. "Good." said the first bat. "Because I sure didn't."

Many modern people fail to see the church the way Jesus does. It is to be expected many outside the church would diminish and devalue her. Some have done just that and want no contact with the church except, in the words of a colorful old phrase, to "hatch 'em"' (at birth), "match 'em" (at marriage), and "dispatch 'em" (at death). More difficult to understand are those inside the church who verbally preach her importance, but through absenteeism and criticism and a lack of active involvement and support betray a low view of the church. The best corrective for a deficient view of the church is to see her the way Jesus  does. When we see the church the way He does, we will see her not just as important, but as an imperative part of God's plan for our lives; not just as nice but as necessary. Every time I am disappointed with human failure or open hypocrisy in the church, I bolster my opinion of her with two immutable, unshakable truths. First, from Acts 20:28-the church has to be important to God because she is that group of people whom He "purchased with His own blood." Something that cost God the life, death, and blood of His precious Son must be important to Him! If He would give His blood for her I ought to at least be willing to lend her my energy and attendance and financial support. Second, from Ephesians  5:25-Jesus must see the church as important because He "loved her and gave Himself for her," It inspires me to know Jesus loves His church! It makes sense that if I love Jesus and He loves the church. I ought  to love her, too. And like Him, I ought  to be willing to give myself to her in her efforts to worship God and serve people. God help us to see while she has many critics, the church has no rivals!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ