I love the church, but I don’t always love going to church. On any given Sunday you’ll find me under my covers listening to worship music trying to get my heart right before crawling through whatever church doors will hold me. And yet, I love the church.
My competing feelings of love and sorrow for the church can become an internal battle raging within me. I’ll admit I could easily sit at home on Sundays confused and numb because of so many bad experiences in churches, some decades ago and some recent, some incredibly personal and some watched from afar. Bad leaders. Corrupt politics. Manipulative pastors. Mean people. Vindictive groups. Twisted teaching. Power hungry people. Church splits. Warped evangelicals. Arrogant seminarians. Foolish congregants. Burned out staff. You name it, I’ve probably tasted it.
And yet, I still love the church. And it’s not because I like getting dressed up on a Sunday morning, I don’t. I love church because I love Jesus (and he’s better). Since I love Jesus, I work on trusting him enough to get out of bed, get my kids dressed and walk into a broken church. A church that’s broken because, well, all churches are broken to some extent. But Jesus tells us to go anyway (Heb 10:25). When we do, the benefits of obedience outweigh the suffering that sinful people in church cause.
Here are a few highlights of why Jesus says believers should stick with his church in spite of its flaws:
Jesus says it’ll bring encouragement.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Jesus says he’ll be with us.
Matthew 28:20 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus says it’ll grow our faith.
Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message I heard through the word of Christ.”
Jesus says it’ll help us not be hypocrites.
James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Jesus says it’ll help us reach maturity like his.
Ephesians 4:11-13 says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and the teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Jesus says church is our family.
Romans 12:4-5 says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it.”
Jesus loves his church so we should love what he loves.
Ephesians 5:25-30 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love her wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”
Jesus laid down his life for his church so we should too.
1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know what love is: Jesus laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
Church being hard—maybe even lonely, doesn’t mean these promises of Jesus are less true. It actually means that being part of broken churches is exactly what forces us to trust Jesus and not one another; to look to his heavenly Kingdom and not build our own earthly ones. Since God is in control of every flawed, fractured, problem-filled and disappointing church, his point in telling us to stay a part of them must actually be that we seek him, together, in the midst of the suffering we experience in the body—because of the body.
So, as you consider whether or not to show up this Sunday, do it because you love Jesus. Trust him to care for you as you care for others in his imperfect body. One day, he promises he will make his church perfect, and when he does, you’ll get the sweetness of knowing you were part of his work all along.
Questions for Reflection:
If going to church is hard for you, have you identified why?
Have you asked God to help you work through those reasons?
Have you asked God to forgive you for what parts of your reasoning may be sinful?
Have you confessed going to church as hard to someone that can listen and care for you?
Have you helped break your church or have you been a part of solutions to help your church?
Are there people you need to ask forgiveness of for contributing to the churches’ brokenness?
What are some ways you can actively love your church family?
This article was originally posted at Gospel Taboo.