Why I Still Believe in the Church
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
…And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9, 14 ESV)
Jesus unveiled some pretty incredible things to John on the Island of Patmos, much of which is recorded in what we call the Book of Revelation.
Some of the insights we can gain from reading Revelation have to do with the identity and characteristics of the Church – the body of Christ at large, comprised of Believers throughout history.
In modern American religious culture there has developed an attitude against the Church. I have heard it said, “I love Jesus, but I can’t stand the church.”
It’s sad, really. Sad on two fronts:
1. It’s sad that the Church seems to have lost the respect of others, because of our poor decisions and hypocrisy. Having said that, I am convinced that most believers, though imperfect, sincerely reflect the glory and goodness of God.
2. It’s sad that religious people would take up a pious position against the Bride of Christ, and then expect Jesus to be ok with that. Why would we ever want to resist the only institution through which redemption comes to mankind?
The church is flawed. But I think that is the point. Jesus redeems sinners and uses us to do extraordinary things, despite our flaws.
Still, we must pursue the perfection that is our destiny.
What should the church look like?
What should believers be known for?
In these two verses, extracted from Revelation 7, we find some insight:
1. The Church is strong in number.. The global impact of the Gospel is significant. John saw “a great multitude that no one could number!” Growth should be a goal of every local church, because it is God’s desire for His church. As believers, we should prioritize church involvement AND inviting others to come with us!
2. The Church is diverse in every way. Jesus’ Church is comprised of people from every nation, tribe, and language. In it you will find rich people and poor, women and men, young and old. As believers we must pursue unity amidst diversity.
3. The Church is known for its worship. God has put a new song in our mouths, a song of praise! For all of eternity we will declare His praise, and we ought to be passionate about it now! Worship is not born out of our musical preferences or styles; it is a response to the goodness and worthiness of the God who delivered me from death and gave me life!! I worship, because He is worthy!
4. The church is forgiven. For this reason alone we ought to shout and sing! No other religion can claim forgiveness as their foundation. Instead, they require certain actions, works, and prerequisites in order for a person to come to their god. But salvation through Jesus Christ is not earned at all, it is freely given to ALL who believe on His name. God didn’t require us to come to Him, He came to us!
I am part of Jesus’ Church, therefore:
I will pray for and encourage growth in my church,
I will seek unity and value diversity in my church,
I will worship passionately in my church (and on my own),
I will be ever mindful that I have been forgiven, and that my church is a place where others can find that same forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Today I pray for Your church. May Your leaders be enlightened; may Your people be inspired; and may Your name be elevated in all the earth!