A Challenge For The New Year
In the New Year, I want to challenge you to think differently about church.
I have heard every criticism of churches and some of them I hear often. At times, criticisms are valid. Sometimes criticisms are the result of not properly understanding what God had in mind for the church. Church was designed to provoke our growth, not to provide a perfect shelter in society.
“A church is not a museum for super saints. It is a hospital for sinners.” This is one of the oldest lines pastors use. It is not a throwaway line. This truly is God’s design. Any notion that church should be perfect needs to go away for us to appreciate our places of worship, as we should.
Jesus led us to expect problems in churches. Matthew 18 establishes how problems should be dealt with. This method is tedious, time consuming and aggravating. It will often be unsuccessful. The idea is that God will use the church relationships to provoke your growth. This method was established before there were churches.
The equivalent would be to say. I am selling you an appliance for your home. In ways you do not now recognize, it will make your life better. Just expect that your appliance will aggravate you and break down often. You will want to walk away from it; but it is an appliance you should hold dear, use vigorously, repair when broken and promote to others.
No one ever had greater ability to criticize his institutions of worship than Jesus. Even so, Jesus faithfully attended and faithfully participated, while He sought to make sacrifices which would bring change.
Ephesians 4 says evangelist pastors and teachers are necessary to challenge our thinking and provoke personal growth. They are gifts to the people of the church. They should not be neglected or ignored. God’s Word describes us as God’s children who need protection from threats that are internal and external.
God is marketing His church(es). They are valuable to us in ways we do not now recognize. To stay away is inconsistent with your faith as the New Testament establishes it.
We may decry flaws and hypocrites, but if you are truly wise, you will see your help is needed; your presence is necessary. Come humbly, and rejoin a family.
These families are valuable to us in ways we cannot now comprehend. The contributions they make to us through their best and through their worst, provide for us value that will last forever.
No one will ultimately be happy who abandons the good ship, Worship, because of rocky seas.
Pastor Jeff Coester
(Previously Published in the Sauk Valley Sun)