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Jesus Loves His Church - Do You Love Her, Too?

The following story reminds us we must focus more on the fabulous things that are always true about the Lord's church than on the ever-present flaws of people in the pews. A Bible class teacher asked her class of second graders, "Who wants to go to Heaven?" All the children jerked their hands in the air with gleeful shouts of, "I do! I do!" except for little Charlie. The shocked teacher asked, "Charlie, don't you want to go to Heaven?" Charlie looked around at his classmates and said, "Not if this bunch is going." Ever felt like Charlie? Come on now — how do you really feel about the Lord's church? As with her Lord, in every generation some love the church and others seem to more or less loathe her. And truly, sometimes people who claim to be followers of Jesus exhibit some very un-Jesus-like attitudes and behaviors, dimming the church's glow at times. Philip Yancey, in his book Reaching For The Invisible God, refers to C. S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" — a group of imaginary conversations between the devil and some of his understudies whereby Satan instructs the junior demons to hinder and destroy Christians by tempting and making suggestions to them. In one of the letters Lewis has the devil Screwtape advising the demon Wormwood to get his subject to "flit to and fro between an expression like 'the body or Christ' and the actual faces in the next pew." Yancey adds, "When we inspect those faces, including our own, the sparkling images of the New Testament [about the church, DO] can lose their luster" (p 85).

Let me speak plainly. The church is the body of Christ. As such, she has lovely and beautiful parts, but also some stinky parts. She has an underarm. . . .an armpit, if you will. And if members of the church do not regularly use a liberal application of the antiperspirant and deodorant of Christ-like love and forbearance, the church quickly emits a pungent and offensive odor that is hard to stay around. Thus the need to do what Scripture teaches: understand and accept that the church Jesus died for has a dual nature. She has a Divine side. In her doctrine, plan of salvation, forms of worship, and pattern of sound words, she is perfect and needs no improvement, and God warns those who would add to or change her or her message (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18-19). She is not only the body of Christ, she is also the bride of Christ. She is special and one of a kind, chiefly because of the supreme price paid to purchase her — the blood of God's own Son (see Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:25ff; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18-19). She is one in nature, and when her members flesh out the teachings of Jesus in doctrine, deed, life, love, message, and ministry there simply is no other organization on earth like her — religious, political, civic, social or otherwise. She is guided by the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 2:20). People who believe in Jesus, repent and are baptized for the remission of their sins are added to the church Jesus built by the Lord (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:38, 47). Though diverse in the make-up of her members (in abilities, personalities, functions) she is essentially one in nature, and there is no man-made body like her on earth, religious or otherwise (1 Corinthians 12:12ff; Ephesians 4:4-6). How could we enjoy being with God's church in Heaven if we never loved her here on earth? Jesus clearly loves His church. How about you?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ