The church is full of hypocrites. The church is powered by greediness. The church is poisoned with corruption. The church is… you fill the blank. Today it’s popular to be cynical about the church. A lot of college students see corruption in the church and ask, “Why even bother going? All I need is me, my bible, and God!” or “I don’t need to dirty myself with church on Sundays, I can just hang out with my friends and discuss religious topics instead.”
So as Christians, do we really need the church? Well, the easy answer is yes. The church is a body of believers, and a body needs many parts (yes, more than three) to function properly (1 Cor. 12:14-31). We we cut ourselves from our church body, we’re like a hand without an arm, an eye without a head, a toe without a foot. We’re dismembered Christians, whose spiritual lives suffer as a result.
But what about all the church corruption? Isn’t it better to avoid it? Well, yes, avoid churches that flagrantly disregard God’s word. But don’t forget: no church is perfect.
Isn’t that’s our root problem? We don’t feel like any church is perfect enough for us. But is perfection (or whatever what you’ve personally determined the church must be) something we should expect? If we read Christ’s story, we see that “[God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ didn’t come to save perfect people, he came to be the righteousness of imperfect people. Therefore a true church must be full of imperfect, corrupt, and sinful people.
I’m not excusing evil in the church. Christ wants us to set aside all sinful ways! However, looking for the perfect church is oxymoronic. Moreover, I’m saying that if we want to be Christlike, by loving the unlovable, seeking out broken people, and caring for the sin-sick hearts, then we better look to the church.
Let me propose that there’s one more problem:
No one who sits on the sidelines makes mistakes. If you’re in the dugout the whole baseball game, you’ll never drop a ball, strike out, or botch a throw. Only the real players make mistakes. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines of the church and criticize, but it’s not easy when you actually play.
So, are you willing to hop into the game? Have you connected yourself to the body? Obedience to Christ requires us to do this. In fact, obedience to Christ requires us to try and actually love the church.
Acts 20:28 reminds us that Church “obtained [the church] with his own blood.” God loved the church so much that he gave up his only son. Christ loved the church so much that he spilled his own blood. Should every man, woman and child abandon the church, one soul will remain before her altar: Jesus Christ. The church is his bride, his prize, and his people that he loves.
Do you love the church? Will you hate Christ’s bride and treasured possession? As Christians we need to fight to love the church by participating within it, loving the people within it, and glorifying God through it.