Friday, April 24, 2015

Love the church

Paul opens his letter to the Philippians with the greeting “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.” (Phil. 1:1) From this salutation we can make a couple of observations. First, Paul writes to a group of believers, saints, who are in a physical location, at Philippi. In other words, he writes to a church. Not only does Paul write to this group of localized believers, but he specifically mentions overseers and deacons, both offices of church leadership.

So I think we can conclude that Paul is writing to a church that is local and is organized, important distinctions in our current age of disillusionment with both.

We can read on in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and most any other New Testament epistle, and read of the importance of the church both in the life of the believer as well as in God’s plan for the world. Church, local and organized, is crucial.

And I imagine most of us would agree. We aren’t disillusioned with the idea of church so much as we are with the church in practice. We’ve been hurt or disappointed or betrayed. It’s easier to walk away. I understand. I’ve been there.

Consider again the New Testament epistles written to churches, local churches like yours and mine. Nearly all the letters address problems of one kind or another, some more serious than others. From selfish ambition and quarreling to sexual immorality, these churches struggled. Yet over and over Paul and James and Peter and the other authors encourage their readers to pursue love and unity and reconciliation. Not once do they recommend the reader take off on her own, that she is better without the church than with.

The Lord saves us for Himself and He saves us for the church. Messy and heartbreaking as it sometimes--often--is, we are called to love one another in the context of the accountability and fellowship of a local, organized church. We need the instruction, we need the interdependence, we need the church.

So love your church especially in her struggles. Love her people and pray for them. Find a way to serve and serve well. Maybe you will have to finally leave for another church because of irreconcilable gospel differences but may it be as a last resort. 

How I pray the Lord will help us all, in all our churches, to be faithful to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ who loved the church and gave Himself up for her. May we see the glory of Lord in His church! Yes and amen!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the words of support on the post. I appreciate it.
    Keep up the great work & happy blogging!