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What is the church? What's it supposed to be like and why

I am losing faith in my hope for churches

Postby Newbie » Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:23 am

I need help. I am losing faith in my hope for churches. My church is just becoming the "oh, I go to church on Sundays, then the rest of the week the people act unchristian-like." My church seems to only care about money now, and not fellowship. It is depressing. My church was my home away from home. I wanted to bring my kids there, like my parents did. I really have lost faith in churches with all their drama. They sit on their self-righteous beliefs and do not realize they are being the biggest hypocrites I have ever seen. It has taken a toll on my relationship with God. I was wondering if you could give me some answers to a few of my questions. Is this the future of the church?

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mat. 18:20). Many people mistake the physical building that they go to, and refer to it as the "Church". The church is the group of two or more who gather to worship, have communion, and give praise to the Lord. You can have church at home with your family or any place of your choosing. The word "church" occurs 80 times in 79 verses in the King James Version. In each occurrence, the word is used to describe a congregation of people, and not a building. The "gathering" of a group of people at a certain time on a certain day (sometimes twice daily) and then again mid-week does not necessarily make one a "Christian" by any means.

Why do they think going to church makes them invincible to God's wrath, and that going to church makes them a Christian?
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Re: I am losing faith in my hope for churches

Postby jimwalton » Wed Oct 02, 2013 11:05 am

Lena, here's the deal. Some of it is discouraging and you may not enjoy reading, but it's the truth.

The church has always had problems, and sometimes severe ones. In Acts 5, almost immediately after the church was formed, people are caught lying and trying to manipulate. In Acts 6.1 we read about arguing and complaining. The book of Galatians, more problems. The book of 1 Corinthians—what a mess! The church is made up of people, and when you put a bunch of strangers together, who see things differently and who have different personalities, values, and motives, there are bound to be problems. And there are. There ALWAYS are. Jesus himself prophesied in Mt. 13.24-30 (The Parable of the Weeds) that the church would always have problem people in it.

So here are some true things:

1. The church was never designed to be perfect. When Jesus designed the church, the idea was never that it would be an ideal place where just good and godly people were, and where good and godly things were all that happened. Neither Jesus nor Paul ever said that church would be that way. As a matter of fact, as I've mentioned, they both acknowledged that there would be a lot of issues in the church. But here's the deal: The Bible doesn't teach us to put our faith in the church. It doesn't teach us to put our hope in the church. Our faith and hope belong in Jesus alone. Jesus ALONE. If you're looking at people, you're more often than not going to be disappointed, frustrated, and even sometimes disgusted. The church is certainly God's idea, but it was never meant to catch your eye as a wonderful place, though that would be nice (and it does happen sometimes!). The church is where broken people who have been rescued gather to worship and serve God together, and to help each other through life. We actually shouldn't be surprised to see many complications, though we hope for better.

2. The church has an open door policy: anybody can come in. That's a great thing, because there are no requirements (you have to pass a test, you have to pass an audition, you have to be so smart, you have to have this much money). Anybody can come in. What a wonderful thing that access to God is open to all. We would think church was a horrible place if there were requirements for admission. It's also a lousy thing: anybody can come in. Think about it. Hypocrites, liars, greedy, the proud, power-hungry, fakers—the door is open to them, too. If you're going to be welcoming to all, well, you have to be welcoming to all. Which is worse—to make it hard to get in, or to let everyone come in, and deal with what you get. What's worse is making it hard to get in. That's bigotry, pride, and elitism. It doesn't suit the church. The only other alternative is to welcome everyone with a smile, and deal with what you get. The church, after all, is a teaching hospital. We are always training people to deal with the sick who are in the same room with us, as well as the sick "out there."

3. No matter how lousy a church may seem, or what decisions the leadership may make, there are good people in churches. Churches always have a lot of good people in them. I know you've seen that, and even though you've seen people you consider to be hypocrites, and you think the leadership has made some terrible decisions, doesn't mean that the church is hopeless gathering of dimwits and pagans. We all need to keep our focus, understanding that there is good and bad, healthy and sick, humble and proud, in ANY organization. It's true of where you went to school, where you work, and even your family. Welcome to humanity. The church is no different. We EXPECT it to be different because, well, it's the CHURCH. But remember points 1 & 2 above.

3. The church is still God's plan. God said, "This is Christ in you, that you learn to love the unloving, forgive the stupidities and hurtfulness of others, learn when to speak the truth in love and when to hold your tongue, and be kind to people you don't think deserve it." The church is where we learn to honor other people as more important than ourselves. It would be nice if everyone in church would do this (and many people do), but when people don't, it really stings.

With regard to your last question, going to church certainly doesn't make people invincible to God's wrath. A simple reading of Revelation 2 and 3 makes that perfectly clear. And certainly going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car. But God says, "Go to church" (Heb. 10.25). He says, "As far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people" (Rom. 12.18). He says, "Do good to everyone, especially to fellow believers" (Gal. 6.10). And when someone in the church is blowing it, he gives directions in Mt. 18.15-20; Gal. 6.1-4, and other places. But don't give up on the church. Jesus is our hope, not Jesus' people. Our faith is in him, though people may disappoint us. Don't lose sight of the prize because you're looking at the problems.
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