“We had people like you in mind when we designed this church,” reads a brochure our preacher has for a certain church. It speaks of a church that is built around the idea of appealing to a given market. You can even go to various websites to get feedback on what religion fits you best. The idea here is that what counts for a church is the programs. “What’s in it for me? What do I get out of this place?”
In the name of religion, many find clubs instead of spiritual food. The aim becomes about social support rather than salvation. Churches become inspected like restaurants. Whose menu do we like best? Instead of me fitting into religion, I try to make religion fit me. More than searching for the church of my choice, I should be interested in finding the church of God’s choice.
The Church God Designed
The New Testament church is not an afterthought. It is part of God’s eternal plan. It has purpose and design. Paul, in Ephesians 3:8 speaks of his mission to preach to the Gentiles and how, through the church, God’s wisdom is made known to all. In Matthew 16:18 and Acts 20:28, ownership is ascribed to Jesus. He died to purchase it for Himself. Ephesians 1:22-23 cites Christ’s authority over the church. It’s not a case of the church’s position on various topics. It’s Christ’s position that the church reflects.
I Corinthians 3:11 calls Christ the foundation, and I Timothy 3:15 described His church as the pillar of truth. Ours is not to see where the wind is blowing. Ours is not to market to public opinion. Paul described the church as something solid, standing firm in the tenets of its King.
Searching for Meaning
Everyone is in need of salvation (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23), and no one deserves to be belittled in their search for meaning or spiritual unification with God. Newsweek once wrote of those who are re-examining their lives and coming to the conclusion that they want their family to have some connection with God. One interviewed in the article simply says, “There’s gotta be something more. What is it?”
When searching for a church that will fit us as individuals, we find groups in which experts do the work, and the members are allowed to become uninvolved. The concepts of sin and responsibility gives way to self-help and motivational lectures. Spiritual development and growth opportunities become limited in congregations that emphasize instant gratification. Finally, Heaven and God’s will becomes an afterthought.
What does it meant to you to be a Christian? Is it to be a good person? Is it to be religious? Is it simply to love others? Is it to accept Christ as your personal savior? Scripturally speaking, not a lot of people know. Think about the importance of the church in the scriptures. In Acts 2:41-47, believers come together for the first time, building one another up, and the scriptures describe these people as those who are being saved. These individuals define the church. Ephesians 2:12-18 describes Christ’s church as the path of peace and reconciliation between ourselves and God. Ephesians 1:3-15 describes spiritual blessings found in Him, in His body. Galatians 3:27 describes baptism into Christ enters one into Christ, and (connecting back to Acts 2) to His church.
We live in a consumerist society, but the Bible emphasizes that the church is not ours to design as we see fit. We do not have the authority to restructure the church to cater to a specific group. Our responsibility is to mold ourselves into God’s pattern. True Christianity takes time and discipline. It takes an effort. To reject His plan is to reject God, but that is what we do when we substitute our wisdom for His. He has given us a church through which we can sustain a relationship with Him. Our church should fit the desires of God if it is going to fit our true and eternal needs.
lesson by Tim Smelser