God's Plan A: The Church
There is a common thread in our culture today many people have separated themselves from the church because it is mostly inconvenient. Many people believe it is possible to be a Christian and not be a part of the Church. It may be possible but it is nowhere in scripture plausible, all throughout the New Testament to find a Christian is to also find the Church, the two were never separated. Paul set the tone in Ephesians as to the incomparable riches that are found in the church for the follower of Christ. The last words of Jesus before He ascended was the great commission, in the great commission, Jesus commanded us all to go and make disciple of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This command to make disciples is the mission of the Church. If you are a follower of Jesus then you share much in common with the Church, you share the same Lord, mission, and purpose. With this in mind hear the words of Paul to the Church in Ephesus.
…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. - Eph 3:19-17 (NIV)
It is absolutely necessary to be connected to the body of Christ in order to know and experience the fullness of God’s love for you! The cold hard reality is there are many people that are missing out on the depth of God’s love for them because they are not connected to the body of Christ (the Church).
There are two absolute key points that the Word of God gives to the follower of Jesus that are evident throughout scripture.
The first is: You absolutely need the Church!
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. - Rom 12:4-5 (NIV)
Can you imagine a marriage where the husband openly omitted to the fact he loved his wife but hated her body? Imagine the husband on his wedding day openly confesses his deep love for his wife and signifies through a covenant with God in marriage. Then turns from that day to spend the rest of his life apart from her, this is not the description of a healthy marriage. In marriage you are two becoming one, this is the definition Paul gives us in his letter to the Church in Rome. The body is made up of many parts but it is still one, and Christ is the head of that body. To be disconnected from the church is to be disconnected from Jesus.
The second is: The Church needs you!
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself it’s Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 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 their 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. - Eph 5:23-30 (NIV)
As a husband loves his wife and a wife loves her husband, so it is with Christ and the Church. Christ longs for His bride (the Church) and the church longs for Christ Jesus her husband. To say that the Church is an option is to say that the cross or crucifixion was an option. This might be new information to some but no perfect Church exists, in fact I’ve heard it said if you do find yourself in a perfect church quickly leave because you will ruin it!
“If Jesus shed His blood for the church and what's in His right hand right now is the church, it ought to be the center of your life. It means that you should not be a spectator that shows up on the weekend for a religious pep talk, you ought to be involved in the community and you ought to be pursuing the mission of the church. If Jesus put His blood into it, you should put your life into it!” - J.D. Greear
Where are you spending your time, money, and resources? If it’s not primarily the church then you can be sure you are bankrupt! All throughout Church history the men and women who made the greatest contributions to the present where those that sought eternal things not earthly things! As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, "If you aim for Heaven you might get earth thrown in; but if you aim for earth you get neither.”
The Church is God’s plan A, and there is no plan B. The Church is God’s plan and you can be sure it is a great one. Jesus said greater works you will do, the Church is the body of Christ and there are no limitations as to what Christ will do through His Church! “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12 (NIV)
The truth is if you want to see Christ glorified in your life, and around the world then you will not simply attend Church but rather be so connected to the Church that it will be hard to tell where you start and the Church ends.