Pages

Friday, March 25, 2011

Going to A Church better than going to NO Church

I hear a lot of reasons from people on why they do not go to church.
The big ones are that the Bible never talks about Christians are
required to go to Church and there are no good churches around me.
Very often, this is where things are left. No answers. No hope. Just
reasons (or often times excuses) for why on a Sunday morning (and
throughout the week) going to church to gather with God's people is
just not in the cards.

At church I serve at, I've been going through the Book of Revelation.
It is a letter written to seven churches in Asia minor facing
persecution. All churches had instructions from Jesus. Some good, some
bad and some just downright ugly. Some he encourages and some he
rebukes but he gives all of them a chance to repent as a church.

One church caught my eye. The church of Sardis by all accounts look
like a normal church with life and power on the inside. See what Jesus
says to them:

Revelation 3:1-6 - 1These are the words of him who holds the seven
spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a
reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen
what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds
complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have
received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I
will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come
to you. 4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled
their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are
worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I
will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will
acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an
ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (NIV1984)

I'm shocked that Jesus doesn't say to the faithful in this church,
"This church is full of dead of people so go find another one," or
"The church is not meeting your needs you who have not soiled your
clothes so find others that are clean," or the popular option today,
"Don't worry about gathering with these dead people; just worship on
your own time and in your own way so you can stay alive."

Why not? For starters, in that day, the church at Sardis was the only
church in Sardis. Second, they face persecution so there was safety in
numbers. Third, this letter is meant to serve as a warning for the
church to repent. "If you don't overcome, you will not see me coming
and you will die. Repent!" The faithful are there to serve as an
example to the rest that Jesus is enough to make you white as snow.
They walk with me. Paul says elsewhere imitate me as I imitate Christ.
He also says those that are strong in the faith lay down your rights,
your preferences to reach the weak among you. Finally, Jesus is
example here shows us he speaks to the church for the good of the
church, not individuals for the good of the individual. See 1
Corinthians 14 and the emphasis Paul puts on the use of tongues in the
corporate setting versus the private. See what takes precedent in
those text, the individual or the church?

Maybe the reason there are no "good" churches is because all of the
"good" Christians are happy staying hidden, forgetting that Christian
maturity means loving the Church/The Bride of Christ more than our own
needs. If that means going to a church that is not perfect, so be it.
It that means settling on a community of believers that are imperfect
sinners then praise be the God that He has given us an opportunity
influence people who want to love Jesus but maybe ignorant of what
that looks like.

As a minister, I may yearn for a church that is problem free and
perfect. That just means that I get the joy to influence those that
may be "weak" (though often times I am the weak one). Is it difficult?
Yes. Is it stressful? Oh yeah. But is it rewarding to see people take
steps towards maturity in Jesus? You bet. However big or small though,
these steps are easy to miss in our results oriented, altar call
focused, consumeristic church. I am grateful for the people around me
rebuking and spurring one another on to Jesus. While they may not look
"alive", they are far from dead and have a chance to change, just like
me.

In light of the persecution this Church probably faced, where options
were slim for community, these people encourage me to always be a part
of a church somewhere for the same reasons, even it is not ideal.
After all, there is one perfect church: the one we find in Revelation
19-22 AFTER Jesus comes back. We eagerly wait for that day by meeting
with others no matter what.

No comments: