Note: For clarity’s sake in this discussion, I will sometimes reference things as “Big C Church" which is God’s Church universal. “Little c church” is what I understand to be the local church on mission with God. Slightly nuanced, but that is why you will see Church or church at times. My goal here is to talk about the Church as a whole; God’s Bride and true delight and also the church in its community or sphere of influence. Hopefully that makes sense!
If you are a husband, you obviously have a spouse and hopefully care deeply about her. You know her beauty, her devotion, and her love for you. You also know many of her flaws; things that are her secrets and probably her biggest disappointments and fears. Truth be told, she also knows many of these things about you! The beauty of marriage is that it is an intimate relationship; a bond that is strong and cannot be easily broken. It weathers storms and grows deeper over time.
You have probably heard and understood the metaphor of the Church being Jesus’ Bride and Him being the Bridegroom. It is such a powerful way of thinking about our relationship with the Savior because it ultimately points to the closeness and proximity we must have with Him. Being Jesus loved the Church so much, He was willing to offer His life for it and it is a model for us:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
If you are a husband, you will understand how deeply you love your wife and how much it hurts you when she is hurting. You hurt when others say things that are untrue about her. You are moved to protect her name and support her when lies are spoken. How much more deeply is Christ jealous for and in love with His Bride? This last and final installment of “Dismantling Lies” focuses on two main lies we believe about the church. Again, there are several ideas that I believe are false and this only covers a couple of the most common. In examining several misconceptions I hear or see about church, in my opinion these are two that need to be dismantled.
Lie #1. The church is full of hypocrites
Ok. Let’s get this one out there right off the bat. For a non-Christian who’s heard awful things or a Christian who’s been burned by the church, this is a very common argument. And I won’t say that there is no validity to this statement, but ultimately I believe it is a lie. The truth is, Jesus established His church as His means of building the Kingdom. Sometimes we wonder why He uses weak and imperfect vessels to advance the Gospel, but really that’s the beauty of it. He loves us enough to use us for His will and ultimate plan for salvation.
So I will agree that there are hypocrites in the church. There are people living one life that is their “Sunday-morning best” but then a completely different life that is Monday through Saturday. And if that were the case for 100% of churchgoers, I too would say “Why go to church? It’s all a bunch of people who don’t practice what they preach.” But that is entirely not the case. The church locally is a place for hurting souls and when the Gospel is preached, an amazing thing happens. People respond. Lives are changed. Marriages are restored. Families are brought back together. Addictions are broken. Yes there are hypocrites and people can walk through the doors week after week and not let the Gospel penetrate their heart. And I would submit if that is the case, they have never truly believed in the first place. But the church by and large is not full of hypocrites. I’ve seen the power of a church on-fire with passion for the Lord. It is entirely unlike any other movement on this planet. And it is a beautiful thing.
Lie #2. Church is something that only happens on Sundays; it’s just a building
Some people see church and their activity in church as just something they do on Sundays. Others see church as just a building; a place to go maybe on Christmas, Easter, and for weddings and funerals. To them it is more symbolic than anything. And the depth of their involvement and commitment in church reflects this.
We need not look any further than the earliest accounts of the church in Acts to see where this is completely not the case. The church in Acts was organic, vibrant, and on mission with God right out of the gate. It is still the model we must use today:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
As you read those verses what words or phrases pop out? For me it’s things like teaching…breaking bread…fellowship…gathering together…meeting needs…being joyous…showing humility…praising God…seeing souls saved. Togetherness and community; a Holy fellowship in Christ. This is what church is and was intended to be. More than just a Sunday morning experience. More than just a building you go visit on occasion. No the local church is a Body and it is living and active; moving in rhythm with the Holy Spirit and being His hands and feet to a broken world. If it is not these things, it is doomed for certain decline and ultimate death. Honestly, many churches are on this path today.
In closing this entry and in ending this series, I hope I’ve at least piqued an interest in you the reader to examine lies more fully. I stated this in Part 1 - Lies About Ourselves, but it bears repeating: Satan is “a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 Any lie that has been perpetuated is because Satan has whispered it into the ear of a man or woman who has then advanced such a belief; a belief that runs in exact opposition to the Gospel. That is how Satan works. It’s how he has operated from the beginning and how he operates today. So it is worth our time to examine his playbook. To know and even predict some of his moves because by doing so, we can prevent unnecessary destruction and devastation to ourselves and our churches.
One closing thought: today if you are not in a vibrant church that I have talked about above or if you are in a church that is in decline because it does not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you need to find a new church! I am impressed to say this simply under the leading of the Holy Spirit because I realize so many people are in churches today where God’s Spirit has left. The members of these institutions are simply riding the fumes until the day the doors close for the final time. There are places where God is moving, where real community is being built, and where Acts 2 is lived out. Find such a place. You will never, ever regret it.
God bless you! I’ve enjoyed this series and discussing with you over Facebook, Instagram, and beyond to examine lies. In Jesus’ name, I believe we have power to dismantle lies and lift up truth. Stay strong in Him and keep the faith.
I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org