By Clayton Todd
Written March 10, 2022
“Just because you’re in the garage doesn’t make you a car”, I remember this being a phrase coming out of my mouth prior to my surrender to Jesus. What I was gunning for was an idea that has been sold within Westernized Christianity and has been bought far too often. That one can be a thriving Christian apart from the Local Church, the Body of Christ.
In hindsight, my motive for such a statement was to self-justify why I would not darken the doors of the Church, ultimately because I did not love the focal point of the Church, Jesus. However, there is a misconceived notion that one can love Jesus and disregard the Church. This is anti-Bible. It is often said that loving the Lord Christ and reserving disdain for the Church, would be much like a man’s best friend having a great affection for him and harboring hatred towards his wife. For within the marriage the two are one, and to love one and hate the other is to misunderstand the relationship between the two. Paul explains this relationship in Ephesians 5, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church”.
Therefore, let us bear the question, “Why do many nod their heads in approval at the idea of a My Bible, Jesus, and Me type of Christianity?”. I recently met with a faithful brother over lunch, and I began to share an encounter I had with a man who had been hurt by the Church, and though he attended on a regular basis was rather scornful towards the Church. And as we conversed my friend suggested this thought, “people have a problem with people, not Jesus”.
Here in lies our answer, far too many people have written off the Church, because Christians though saved by grace and are counted righteous on the account of Christ are still sinful. Let us follow this train of thought. “…The Church is not a place. It’s not a building. It’s not a preaching point. It’s not a spiritual service provider. It’s a people- the new covenant, blood-bought people of God”. Real people make up the Church. People who have jobs, families, mortgages, bills, weaknesses, anxieties, and serious flaws in character. And yet they are God’s people.
There is a humbling reality for Pastors, Church Planters, and Congregations that no matter how great one believes their Church to be, it is not perfect. As long as sinners saved by the grace of the Gospel make up the community that is the Church there is bound to be missteps, friction, and pain. And yet nowhere in Scripture is the Christian called to forsake the Church. Yet only called to reconcile with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Rather than trust the Gospel’s power to reconcile brother to brother, many have resolved to have no biblical community within the local Church at all.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor once wrote, “The basis of Spiritual Community is truth; the basis of emotional community is desire”. At its simplest form the My Bible, Jesus, and Me mentality is not based on truth, but rooted in desire. The desire to avoid the responsibility of displaying the Gospel to one another, seeking reconciliation. The attempt to avoid knowing brothers and sisters in Christ, and the attempt to avoid gathering to make much of Jesus corporately.
“People have a problem with people, not Jesus”, then let us connect the dots to understand that Jesus bought the Church with His sinless blood poured out at Calvary. For one to look at the Church with distaste, and to pursue Jesus apart from His Church is to look at the Cross and declaratively say, “What you died for, I have no interest in”.
Therefore, how might we fix this? One could walk through the Scriptures giving a Biblical Theology of Christian Community trying to convince someone of their need for the local Church in their walk with Christ. But it is my opinion that we are better off considering what’s at stake.
- Public Display of the Gospel, within the local Church the Christian is actively able to see reconciliation played out before their eyes. The very Gospel that saved them is empowering them to forgive as they have been forgiven.
2.The Preaching of the Word, our YouTube Histories may be flooded with our favorite preachers and speakers, however it is only the local Church that can provide a pastor to feed the Word of God to the congregants in a way they are truly known and loved. The Sheep are meant to be under the care of a Shepherd, and this is not done over a phone screen or Airplay.
3. Evangelism, apart from the local Church what does evangelism entail? We share the Gospel, and see others converted only to point them where, themselves? The Church is the vehicle that the Mission of God is accomplished, apart from the local body of believers biblical evangelism is distorted.
The Christian Needs more than their Bible, and Jesus. They need a local body to belong to.