You have heard people say it. You have said it yourself: “I love my church”. Personally, I cannot imagine life lived outside of a Christ-centered worshiping community. My life is simply better in community with fellow faith-travelers who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, pray, worship, challenge, care for, and love each other to the cross.
On the flip side, there are some who would say, “I love God, but I don’t like the church.” They are people we know and love, people we rub shoulders with on a daily basis, people who may have been hurt deeply by someone in the church. The church can, at times, not be a very nice place. And sadly, rather than building bridges of healing and grace, we end up drifting apart. I am sure we can all think of people whose faith story has been defined by the unfortunate comments or sequence of events as described above.
Remember, when we speak about the church (i.e., the Body) we are talking about Christ’s Bride, His beloved (Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 21:2, 9)!
I hate to burst your bubble (and maybe you already realize this), but the truth is, there is no perfect church out there. You can try to find it, but at the end of the day, the search will always lead to the same conclusion: Church is a place filled with broken, imperfect people. Yes, the church has its growth areas. It is far from perfect. We are, after all, a group of sinners coming together to worship and follow a perfect God with humility, living under the wings of His immeasurable grace.
So why love the church?
During the month of November, our sermon series will give biblical reasons why loving the church is the most natural response to loving Jesus. After all, God, through His church does things for us that nothing else can do: It makes us better, gives us a bigger purpose and bolder passion, sets the vision for a broader perspective, and it leads us to a deeper life with Jesus. Paul writes, “Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) If Jesus loved the church so much that He died for it, then if I say I love Jesus, it is nearly impossible to not love the church. Jesus did not just love it and die for it … He started it. Jesus said, “…upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matthew 16:18) God’s Spirit continues to build up His beautiful Bride, which is us, the Church. “I Love My Church” is the perfect moment to help us reconnect with why church is a crucial piece to our discipleship journey.
Why do you love Redeemer? What led you to engage in its mission and ministry? What excites you about the church? What are your best and fondest memories of Redeemer? As I personally ask myself these questions, a flood of responses fill my mind. I love Redeemer for many reasons.
- I love seeing the passion shown around worship and gathering as the Body in fellowship.
- I love that we have multiple styles of worship, engaging people in their heart language of worship, meeting them where they are at in a variety of ways.
- I love seeing God’s hand at work, challenging and stretching us through His Word to engage our community in fresh and more targeted ways.
- I love being an under-shepherd of God’s flock called Redeemer; preaching, teaching, and breaking bread at the Lord’s Table.
- I love serving alongside solid men and women of faith, willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of the church.
- I love the visioning process we are on as we together dream on how to more effectively be a missional outpost within the community in which God has placed us.
- I love seeing Jesus alive and at work in your lives.
My list about what I love about Redeemer could go on and on! Of all the things I could have included on my list of why I love Redeemer, the one that tops them all is my love for you, the sheep which God has entrusted into my care! In fact, as Beth and I considered whether to accept the Call to serve here at Redeemer, one of the biggest deciding factors was you. I cannot thank and praise God enough for a better congregation to serve.
As we launch into a month-long emphasis centered on why we love Redeemer, we must always remember whose church it is. Make no mistake, Redeemer is not my church, Council’s church, or the Elder’s church. It is not even Redeemer’s church. Redeemer is God’s church whom He has graciously established for His purposes, calling us together at this time and place in history to partake in a Word and Sacrament mission that cannot help but splash into the lives of the surrounding community.
Jesus started the church and He is the one still building it today. So, if I love Jesus, then I love what He started and what He is still building today: A people gathering, growing, and going in Jesus, doing whatever it takes to lead others to know Christ as Lord and Savior.
Redeemer is a “GREAT” church! So let us continue to “BE” the church God designed us to be and share the love, my friend! Let us share Jesus!
I love my church!