>Behold, the local church
>In my last post I discussed the need for a unifying love between all Christians around the world and from all denominations and traditions. It will not be easy to bring all Assemblies of God and Baptists, Catholics and Disciples of Christ, Episcopalians and Foursquare members into a unifying love that refuses to belittle and berate. This is indeed a large task before us. At the same time, however, I propose that such a love for the Church Universal is in reality a much simpler task than one that we may take for granted: genuine love for the local church.
Let me begin by putting this out there: I am on the path to vocational ministry, which I believe I will serve as a pastor. I can think of no other career in all the world that would make me as happy as fulfilling that calling. With that being said, however, I never want to go to church. As soon as I arrive at church on a Sunday morning I am happy to be there and enjoy being in the presence of God amongst His people. Until I arrive, though, I sincerely do not wish to go. I suspect that this unites me in a small way with many Christians around the world. Why is that I so dislike getting up on Sunday morning more than any other morning, and desire to skip out on something that I enjoy so much? I can think of no other reason than that my sinful nature hates to be reminded that I am not my own God and that the enemies of my soul would do whatever is necessary to keep from meeting with my fellow saints as God’s word commands.
This brings me back to my original point, it is hard to love your local church; harder than it is to love Christians whom live a world away (in my case, this would mean African, Asian or South American Christians). To love our brothers and sisters around the world generally means to provide financial contributions and pray for them. To love the Christians who attend our church, live a few doors down or even in our own household is to learn to love on a much more intimate and challenging level. To interact with people who talk too much or talk too little; who seem to check out in church or those who seem too enthusiastic; who volunteer for every activity or for none; who take too much interest in your life or who don’t seem to care enough requires real Christ-like sacrificial love. I live in North America and I am sure there are African Christians who are hard to love, but I do not know them so it is easy for me to love them in an abstract way. It is much more difficult to love those Christians who are closest to us in a concrete fashion when they are hard to love. Being committed to loving those around you by seeking the best for their lives is difficult.
Because this is hard and requires sacrifice, we must ask why we should even take the time to be involved in the local church at all. More on that next time…