A couple of days ago, I asked you, my readers, to introduce yourselves to me and to the other readers. I also asked you to answer this question: “Why are you interested in the church?” (By the way, it is not too late to introduce yourself and respond to this question. See “Please allow me to introduce myself“.) Several responded. Since the responses about the church encouraged and challenged me, I thought I would take this opportunity to compile an edited version here. I am not attempting to put words into anyone’s mouth with this post. Instead, I’m using the responses of my readers to help express my own thoughts. Feel free to continue adding your own thoughts as well.
So… why do we care about the church?
God has adopted us into his family. He adopted us completely by his grace and not because of anything that we have done or think or will do or will think. He demonstrated his love for his children by coming to earth as a human, teaching us how to relate to the Father and to one another, living a sinless life, dieing on behalf of our sins, rising from the dead, and continuing to make intercession for us.
We are now children of God, part of God’s family – a present family, as well as an eternal family. God has confirmed our relationship with him by indwelling us with his Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit we relate to God, to other members of God’s family, and with the world around us. The Spirit prompts us to move toward God in faith and obedience, and to move toward one another in love and unity.
Jesus gathers his followers (the Father’s children) together into an assembly of God’s family through the work of the Spirit. This Spirit-assembled group is the church. As the church lives and works and loves and cares and laughs and cries and learns and grows, it becomes a community – a people that share a common existence in God through Jesus Christ enabled by the Spirit.
The church sometimes operates within organizations and structures and models and methods and programs, but these are not the church. God’s children continually follow the Spirit so that organizations and structures and models and methods and programs do not displace the church.
We recognize differences in one another, but work to maintain the unity of the one body, one faith because their is only one Spirit, one Lord, and one Father. We do not criticize one another, but we do teach one another. We do not ridicule one another, but we do attempt to understand one another. We do not exclude one another, but we do accept one another. We are family.
The children of God do not simply meet together, but much more importantly, they live together as family. They spend time with one another and encourage one another to grow in maturity in Christ (since none of them are perfect) through their words and their deeds. They recognize that the Spirit is working in their midst and desire to see one another exhibiting the fruit of his presence through demonstrations of love and good works.
These demonstrations of love and good works are directed toward brothers and sisters in Christ, but also toward those outside of God’s family. The Spirit of God works through the Father’s children in order to carry out God’s mission on earth. This mission is the Spirit-led and Spirit-enabled responsibility of every child of God – individually and corporately.
Individually or together, in small groups or in large, we recognize only one Lord, one Master, one Shepherd. We belong to our Lord and submit as his servants and servants of one another. We do not promote ourselves, but humble ourselves. We accept that when we work and when we serve and when we teach and when we give and when we make disciples and when we get our hands dirty – when we are following our Master, we are simply servants doing the work of servants, and we desire and deserve nothing.
We go when our Master says, “Go.” We speak when our Master gives us the words. We serve when our Master provides the strength. At other times, we wait for our Master, recognizing that we are nothing and can do nothing apart from him. But, we also know that He loves us – not because of anything in us, but because of who he is.
Why do we care about the church? Because the people who gather together are our family. Because God loves them and cares about them. Because Jesus died for them. Because the Spirit indwells them. Because we need them.