At a meeting I met a man who has given his life to Christian relief organizations. I asked him how he got into that line of work.
He told me he grew up in a loving church where his Dad was the pastor. After college, he served in the Peace Corps, and caught a vision to “… love justice and walk humbly with His God (Micah 6:8).” He entered seminary with thoughts of being a pastor but soon discovered not every church was as loving or as well led as the church he grew up in.
His seminary President, sympathetic to the burden the young man felt in his soul, arranged for him to preach in some local churches. Like a young person will often do, he went up to the line in a few messages – and then crossed it. There were several run-ins with pastors.
Finally he decided to quit the local church. He loved the Lord, but wanted no part of the local church.
He still prayed – and one night he had an extra-ordinary encounter with God. He sensed God saying to him, “If you love me, you will love my church. After all, I died for it.”
His journey back to the church was not instant – but over time, he repented of his anger at the church and began to fall back in love with the bride of Christ.
Many people would like Jesus – but want nothing to do with His church. Honestly, who can blame them? Baptists have given ample evidence that we love being right more than we love the people Jesus died for. Still, there is the inescapable message: “If you love me, you will love my church. After all, I died for it.”
The church is the best evidence I know for the amazing grace of God. The reality that He still loves His people after they – we – have let Him down so many times, says how really deep His grace must be.
Be like Jesus – love His church.