So many times, I have heard people say they quit church because of the people... (hypocrites, immaturity, etc.) And many times, I hear that people say they don't really get anything out of church, so they don't go that often.
Some say they aren't learning anything there anyway, or they simply don't like the pastor—he’s too preachy, or too harsh, or too long, or too short. Or the worship is no good; or the people are just annoying because they have offended you, or because they just aren't as mature and intelligent as you; or simply because you just don't feel like dealing with them. Or countless other things that can be found and disliked about a service. But stop and consider something with me for a moment: Is the world—is our society—filled with misled, sinful, broken people? Yes! Is the church not simply an assembly of these people who have come out of the world, because they now see God's love and grace? Yes! Are any of us going to become holy and righteous overnight because we are saved now? Or does it take a lifetime of devotion and growth? So theologically and literally, what should the church be filled with today? A conglomeration of Christians from every walk and level of maturity, with every problem and struggle known to mankind coming in those doors, in need of knowledge, love, and forgiveness as they attempt to grow in Christ! [So, your complaint is?] It has always been that way since day one. Moses led a group of immature, self-absorbed, hard-headed people who actually contemplated killing him when they didn't like what was happening, and who fell away from God, and lacked trust in God over and over. Paul gave his life to a group of churches that would reject his teachings, question his motives, lie and cheat the church, and rebel at every turn. Jesus, our Savior Himself, walked with people that literally disagreed and argued with His Message even as the Messiah. People who walked away when asked to do too much; cared more about their own status in the Kingdom than His call to love others, and eventually turned on Him in times of greatest trouble—so they did no better. But this fact does not give us an excuse to say, "Well, as long as I love Jesus, I'm OK. I don't need those people." Nor does it give us the excuse to just get our sermon online and be done with it. Nor to quit when we are hurt or done wrong. Looking back at these three men who were leading such horrible groups in Scriptures again, watch their attitude: Moses gave up the most privileged life of his time for God's people. And in their time of greatest failure and rebellion, even against him, he asked to have his own salvation taken away if God would not save them as well: Exodus 32:31-32. Paul counted it his greatest duty to give up all, in hope of growing those who often rejected him and reverted back to old ways, yet he too, was even willing to give up his own salvation to unite his brothers with Christ: Romans 9:3. Jesus so loved those who rejected His message, hated and deserted Him, that His last breaths and thoughts were for their salvation: Luke 23:34. Why did they act this way about God's people? Because they truly understood when you ignore, avoid and disrespect this church, you are literally hating the very Bride of Jesus Christ—the very ones He saw worthy to give His own Life to defend and protect. The very group of people that God the Father says He literally loves as much as He loves Jesus Himself: John 17:23; John 15:9. These people we see as annoying and troublesome, God loves as much as Jesus; and Jesus loves them as much as He is loved by the Father. Can you possibly grasp that you and I are loved that much? Jesus plainly tells us this is the love we will have for one another, if we love Him that much: John 15:12. Nothing has changed. God still has that crazy passion for them, and expects us to as well. This is why it is not ok to be just fine without the church. This is why it is not ok to come when you feel like it. This is why it is not ok to slip in and get a quick sermon, sing a song, and never connect or worry about another person here until whenever you do come back. If you feel you are doing just fine without any interest or concern for regular attendance here, or without any true involvement in the lives of those around you—not only are you dead wrong, but you don't know His Word, you aren't obeying His Word, and He is not filling your Spirit with His Presence because you obviously do not have His desire or concern for His people. This actually means that you very possibly need church more than those less knowledgeable and more hypocritical people attending because in your wisdom of Scriptures and your self-sufficiency, you may have become one of the weakest and most immature of Christians, and you have fallen to one of Satan's most purposeful and powerful plots—to divide the Body, and create weak, self-absorbed people.
If you think you are not being self-absorbed and apathetic, think for a moment. Most of us get little out of church because we are the consumers only, in the relationships we have here. We take the parts of the service we want, leave what we don't. We befriend those that help us or make us feel good, and ignore those who don't. We attend when it suits us, we stay home when it doesn't. We are happy when we are served and loved, but we rarely search out those in need of the same. There is very little humility, very little listening, very little genuine caring. The church functions on the basis of my needs, my wants, my preferences, and my all-important opinion on every matter. Some really should stop talking about themselves long enough to hear someone else's pains or opinions. It might be eye-opening and enlightening as you see a need you could fill, rather than being propped up yourself: Philippians 2:4-5. It is just really too easy to say, or even believe you love Jesus. Loving the church makes you prove it (And that was His whole idea): Hebrews 6:9-12. So, while trying to be a part of this Body, or any Body of Christ, if you have been offended—good—learn to work through it in the love of Christ. If people are needy and selfish—good—show them the patience and love of Christ. If loving and serving others takes away some of your time and money—good—let it reveal in sacrifice what is truly important in your life. Contemplate this: we are called to have times of struggle, disagreement and sacrifice to test our love in reality and to grow more like Him. The needs of God's people should spur you into action, not drive you away, because you should be worried over and care for, the hurt, broken, misled, and even sinful brothers and sisters: Romans 15:1: this love is only real when it is lived—that is why so many don't want to be a part of a church—because it is too needy and broken, and they don't have the time or love to help fix it: Galatians 5:13-14 (Do we think something repeated this much is an option?) Think about what we all know a church driven by Christ's Commands and Love should look like (because I know we all feel it in our hearts). First, we would all stop and consciously consider the people of our family right here. How many are new, uncertain, vulnerable? How many are hurting? Going through rough times? How many have physical needs but are afraid to ask? How many need someone to intervene in prayer for them before God, as Christ intervenes for us all? Galatians 6:2. It is your responsibility to love and care for them… without being asked—not ignore, gossip about, or condemn them. It is here where we find the strength and trust to share our struggles and sins, so that we may get help. Here is where we release burdens, and find consolation. Here is where we go to celebrate our good fortune and accomplishments. Here is where we get the support and affirmation to continue living differently in a godless world. Here is where we find brotherhood in our different beliefs and love for one another. Here is where we share in the love and worship of our God and King. We are not just people who share a building while take religious classes together—these are the people we should keep up with, worry over, connect with, support and love—biblically—first and above all others on earth. And it is here, by doing these things, that we are taught in practicality and sincerity how to be patient, merciful, passionate, serving, gentle and forgiving. Here we are taught to be strong, sacrificial, protective warriors—brothers and sisters in arms against the world—family for life. You have not truly been a part of church today, or any day, unless you have shared with and loved those around you. Unless you have asked the Spirit to guide you to those in need. Unless you have gone to those, without provocation from anyone else, who need fellowship, support, or help, simply because you love them. Unless you have been willing to share your need, your burden, your sin, in hopes of getting help. We simply can’t continue to look at the different people around us as strangers, burdens or annoyances: Matthew 20:25-26. God says that the absolute greatest Christians—the ones that will earn His acceptance and show His face to the world—are the ones who will be the greatest servants to one another in love. Based upon that literal proof of the love that is supposed to be within us, how many of us does Jesus consider, "great"?
Ephesians 6:12: We are called by our King to be in the battle of our lives—against the most dangerous adversary in the Universe, with most of the world either on his team, or taken hostage by him—and we are all each other has in this war. Look around you—unity, family, brotherhood—these things do not come by accident, they are chosen and cultivated. These are the people you fight beside of and fight for. Those you heal and protect. If this is not the group you want to draw that closely to, then kindly make the decision to move on please [For your sake and theirs…] If they are, then make the decision to engage—join in. Be the servant and the soldier for one another; choose to be more than a classroom or social club; be a family of brothers and sisters in arms—committed to one another—as Christ is committed to us. That is god's plan for church—not our little friendly, formal get-togethers: John 18:36. Remember that Jesus Himself said this world is not His Kingdom. But those He has called out of this world are forming His kingdom. And He said those who truly were of His Kingdom would be ready to fight. Are you and I ready to fight for, support and pray for one another in this war? If so, then give this Body of Christ the passion, respect, love and loyalty that Christ intended—because we are all each other has in this battle against Satan's world.
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