"I like Jesus. It's the Church I can't stand." Really?1
How many times have you heard it said: “I like Jesus. It’s the Church I can’t stand!” I wish I had time to write a lengthy article in response to that ill-informed and utterly misguided statement, but I don’t. So I must be brief. Continue reading . . .
How many times have you heard it said: “I like Jesus. It’s the Church I can’t stand!” I wish I had time to write a lengthy article in response to that ill-informed and utterly misguided statement, but I don’t. So I must be brief.
I’m thoroughly convinced that people who declare their affection for Jesus but not the Church know little if anything about the Jesus they profess to admire. These people probably ignore the fact that this Jesus spoke more about hell and eternal condemnation than all the other NT authors combined.
They probably ignore the fact that this Jesus demanded undivided loyalty to himself and declared that only through faith in him alone could one experience a saving relationship with God the Father. This Jesus whom they say they like, perhaps even love, is also the Jesus who said that he would build his Church and that the powers of death would never prevail against it (Matt. 16).
This is the same Jesus who sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost to inaugurate the life of the local church. This Jesus, says the apostle Paul, is himself the head of the church, which is his body.
This Jesus, whom these folk profess to like and perhaps even claim to worship, is the same Jesus who, according to Ephesians 5, “loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor.”
This Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church (to use Peter’s language here in 1 Peter 5:4), the Lord of the church, the lover of the church, the savior of the church; he is the one who has such unrelenting passion for and commitment to the church that at the consummation of history he will eventually wed the church in what the Bible calls the marriage supper of the Lamb!
So, let me come straight to the point. Don’t give me any of this silly, high-minded claptrap and spiritual bologna about liking Jesus but not his church. Jesus himself simply will not let you get away with it. It’s not an option that he permits. The church is his body. The church is his bride. If you truly love him, you must love her.
That’s not to say, of course, that everything about the church is perfect. Only a fool would think that it was. We all see its flaws and shortcomings. Your experience of local church life, up to this point in time, may have been painful and disillusioning. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. But let me be perfectly clear: There is no such thing as Churchless Christianity any more than there is such a thing as Christless Christianity! To believe in and receive and love and follow Jesus is to live as a member and supporter and lover of his body, the church.