So often I have heard people say it. “I love Jesus, but not the Church.” This not uncommon to hear in our day and age. “Christians” in our culture have seemed to believe in the idea that you can have some kind of singular, private, and unpublicized faith. It is something that the culture has dictated again and again, and as the world becomes more secularized and worldly it will run more rampant. But let me tell you…
I get it.
People are hypocritical, deceptive, arrogant, lying, rude, destructive, evil, selfish, and most importantly, sinful. Mankind has done nothing but destroy everything that it comes into contact with. We murder, steal, and lie. We tear down relationships. We hurt people. The Church is absolutely no different. Everyone in it is just as sinful and selfish as those outside. We have caused wars, racism, injustice, and ruined lives of people just because of a selfish desire. Sunday mornings worship gatherings can seem fake and unauthentic. People there can seem inclusive and hateful. But let me tell you…
This isn’t an excuse to hate the Church.
It is exactly the opposite. This statement is going to sound harsh. You aren’t going to like it. You may even condemn me for it… But you can’t love Jesus without loving the Church. This is IMPOSSIBLE.
In John 14: 15, Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
The chapter directly before in 13: 34 Jesus says “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
In Mark 12: 31-32 it says “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’”
Jesus COMMANDS us to love people. Actually, he says that if we love him we will love people. This includes the Church. It isn’t just about the lost sinners who need to hear the Gospel (Even though this is true), it is about loving those who love the Lord. Putting your faith in Jesus does not automatically make you a faultless saint. Instead, it says that you ARE a hypocrite. You ARE destructive. You ARE a sinner. You ARE broken. And that you NEED the redemptive work of a Savior. But let me tell you…
This is not an excuse to hate the Church.
If you believe this is an excuse, then you are saying you are more deserving of grace than someone else. You are saying that you are less sinful than the person that hurt you. This is prideful, extremely arrogant, and says that Christ’s sacrifice is not sufficient. Not only is this idolatry, but it elevates yourself even above the redemptive work of Christ. This cannot be an excuse, because Jesus loves His church despite their failures. He died for His Church. He took nails into His hands and feet for His Church. He was beaten, bruised, scared, tortured, and sacrificed for His Church.
In Ephesians 5:25 Paul says “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Jesus loves His bride. Despite how broken it is. But let me tell you…
If we are called to look like Jesus, we need to love the Church.
1 John 2:6 states that “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
In Galatians 2:20 Paul says that “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Most importantly, Jesus says in John 15: 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
If we love Jesus, we are now a part of His body. If it is now Christ who lives in us, we need to love the Church because Christ loved the Church. Our dedication to Christ goes beyond any hypocrisy, hatred, and slander that the Church may put out. We are called to love the Church, no matter what they may have done to us. You cannot love Christ and hate His bride. God loves His bride, so much that he died for them. We are called to forgive, just as Christ forgives.
Matthew 6: 14-15 says “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
We have died to our old selves. We are not intimate partners with the bride of Christ. Christ now lives in us. There is nothing that the Church can do that would negate the commandments and love of Christ. I know the Church may have hurt you, but let me tell you…
There is nothing that the Church can do that will make Jesus stop loving it. Shouldn’t it be the same for you?
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2: 19-22