I’m not sure where we got the idea that Christians have the option to willingly forget about the church and still believe they can maintain a pleasing relationship to the Lord of the church.

I can tell you this for sure...that idea didn’t come from the Bible. One clear purpose of Christ in coming to our world was to build His church. In Matthew 16:18, we learn that this divine institution was founded upon Jesus’ everlasting divinity as the Son of God.

We also learn that it is through the church that Christ carries on an assault against the powers of evil. This is made clear by His statement that the gates of Hades could not prevail against the church. The gates of a place are not for offensive purposes but defensive.

So the picture here is not that Hades is on the offensive against the church, but that the church is on the offensive against Hades. And, we are told by Christ, Hades cannot prevail! So, the glorious church of Christ is forever on the offense. We are not passive. We do not sit around and wait for the battle to be brought to us. No! We are on the move, looking for lost souls to bring home to Jesus, serving the needy, praying for God’s purposes to prevail, studying, growing, worshipping and loving. The importance of these matters is difficult to overestimate.

The church is the body of Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:27). It is grotesque to even imagine that we could want the Head of the church (Jesus– Colossians 1:18) but not His body. This is not a choice left to us by our Savior. And when you consider the way Jesus used His earthly body while living among us, you gain insight into how His body today should be employed. He went about helping others. He was unselfish in His service.

He gave up even His rights in order to serve. He subjected Himself to hardship and abuse in order to bless a lost world. Is there anything there for us to think about? How very important are the purposes He has in mind for His body on earth today.

And, do you remember the dowry Jesus paid for His lovely bride? Here’s what the Bible says, "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28). Our dear Lord bought the church with His very lifeblood! Listen now, it was not an idea that Jesus bought with His blood; it was, in fact, the actual church! Now what is the value of that blood? It is priceless!

So what must be our Savior’s view of His church? The preciousness of the church to Him goes beyond evaluation. Now are you seriously going to tell me that a Christian can adopt a take it or leave it posture toward the church...that he can attend the Sunday assembly or not simply on the basis of what he wishes to do...or that she may or may not be involved in the work of the church depending on how the wind blows...and that this kind of weak response to the church is perfectly fine with her Lord? Are you really going to tell me that?! You don’t get that from the Scripture.

The relationship that Jesus sustains to the church, the love and commitment He bears her, His oneness with her, the glory He gains through her, the work He accomplishes through her, the truths she models before a lost world, all of this, and more, highlights for us the vital role the church has. The church is made up of those who contact the Blood of the Lamb (through New Testament baptism) for past and continual cleansing. They are the saved. They are the church. We are indebted to Jesus and the church. Now let us serve Him by being faithful as and to His church. 

Written and submitted by Doug Oakes, minister, Woodlawn Church of Christ, Zanesville; email my7acorns@gmail.com.

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