Can you love Jesus but hate the church? - Meine Hausaufgaben Teil 5 - 6. Okt 2016
The Church is God's gift to us. A gift meant to encourage and strengthen us (Heb 10:25), to empower us and help us grow (Col 3:16, Eph 4:12), to complement and protect us (Heb 13:17, Rom 12:3-7). It is the good gift of a good and wise Father. What He envisions the Church to be is the Bride of His Son, pure and holy (Eph 5:27). A body with many members that work together as one to accomplish the work of the Lord (Ro 12). A dwelling place for His presence (Eph 2:22). An opportunity to love and be loved every day (Joh 13:34-35).
Is it really this beautiful idea that we despise and sometimes even hate? Or is it rather the people that make up the Church? All those sinners, those broken and dysfunctional folks with all their issues and attitudes, those religious hypocrites, those ... people just like you. And me.
Truth is, all of us are broken and hurt. All of us have grown up and still live in a broken world, and all of us wrestle with our flesh. We are all weak. And that‘s why God gave us to each other: so we can help and strengthen each other. He knows we cannot make it to the end on our own; we cannot follow Jesus without the help of others.
This is also why God didn't make church optional. As Jono Hall puts it: “There is no choice between Jesus and His Church. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you are automatically born into/grafted into the Church.”.1 Because God understands the struggle we have with sin and also with each other in our sinfulness, He didn't give us the option to not be part of the Church.
But the glorious part of Church is that it is more than the gathering of weak and broken people. It is the body of Christ. We are called in Him. He is the head of the body; in fact, the body is His. He created in Himself one new man (Eph 2:15). If we are all in Him, we are also united with each other through Him: “...so in Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.“ (Rom 12:5).2 There is no Church apart from Christ and there is no believer who is not part of the body.
We simply cannot hate the Church and love Jesus. The Church is part of Jesus - to hate it would be to hate Him. We would hate those He loves and are called by His grace, would hate His decisions and actions, would despise His love.
However, we can struggle with the reality and the consequences of being part of the body. We can get hurt and disappointed, and we will have to work through those things, loving each other. This love is no abstract concept, it is practical in its application. It means not turning away in offense but rather reconciling, forgiving instead of hating, accepting instead of judging.
For Jesus said: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (Joh 13:34-35)