What is the church to you? How do your actions or your relationship to the church truly define what the church is to you?
Back in the 19th century a German theologian by the name of Friedrich Schleiermacher defined the church as “a voluntary association of like-minded individuals.” According to this definition, which many people today would agree with, the church is no different than the local little league baseball team. However, when people view the church as optional or voluntary it becomes quite vague and abstract and very unlike the biblical view of being the living, breathing body of Christ.
For people outside the church or who live on the periphery of it, the church might look a lot like a club. Some people go to this church and others go to that one. However, if you move inside the church and become engaged in it, the church is more like a family.
The church is made up of all kinds of people who have been brought into the body of Christ through the waters of baptism and who have been gifted by God’s grace in Christ with forgiveness, life and salvation, even though they may be quite annoying. Even so, the church is God’s family made up old people with hearing aids and loud screaming kids, people you may like and others you just put up with (forgive) because God puts up with you (forgives).
The biblical church is not like Facebook where you can select your friends and unlike them whenever you want to. The biblical church is not like Facebook where you are digitally separated from the real lives of people. Instead, the biblical church is made up of irritating people who are loved and forgiven by God and that’s what’s make the church real and valuable for everyone who is a member of it.
In the local church we come head-to-head with who we are and by the grace of God in Christ we learn to become something more.
So rather than stand on the outside of the church or look for greener pastures, I would encourage you to get involved in your local, messy and imperfect congregation and be the forgiven and forgiving member God has called you to be in Christ.
– Pastor Tim