A Better Question
Over the past number of years, in reading various books and various texts, there have been so many good things to come out about the organization of the church, its functionality, and how it's organized. We love helpful organizational charts that put her leaders and elders and deacons into properly assigned roles and her congregation and members into their proper duties serving within the church. And I think we get wrapped up in this organizational structure. It's about the church and what she can give us, what she can do for us, or even, what's in it for us.
But I've come to realize that I very rarely asked the question, Do I love her not for what she can do for me, not for what she gives me, not for how she ministers to my family, but do I love the bride for which Christ died? Because so often, we have this very tightly focused vision of the church that is very local. We want to emphasize the local church, of course, but it's very small.
But when we ask the question, Do we love her?, doesn't that expand our vision about the world and the invisible church? It shows me that I'm loving people. I'm loving the body of Christ in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, in caves and house churches, those meeting in secret, churches in Europe, churches in Antarctica, South America, in the mountains, and all around the world—all because I'm loving her, the very body that Christ died for.
Do I love her? Not for what she can do for me, not for what she gives me, not for how she ministers to my family, but do I love the bride for which Christ died?
A larger vision then comes out of those structures, organization, and the mundane ABC outline of what the church should be, and we are loving her for just who she is. We then have the same lens to view her through which Christ views her: as his lovely bride. I became convicted that I was too involved in the functionality of the church rather than loving who the church is. I can get so disappointed. Sometimes she's so ugly and she's got mud splattered all over her dress, but that's the Holy Spirit's work to clean off. And we get the enormous privilege of participating in that.
Dustin Benge is the author of The Loveliest Place: The Beauty and Glory of the Church.
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