Why You Can’t Avoid Being In Church

Doug Bursch tweeted this thought on church:

In reading it I found myself thinking that we can’t help being the church, and I wrote this doggerel:

If you belong to Jesus

What to do with Jesus’ love

Jesus’ love is given to you and you can give that same love to others.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35.)

This is not beyond you, but is within you just as the Spirit of Christ is now in you. You are equipped to give his love to his people – and the world – because he has given his love to you.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. … We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:15-16, 19.)

He brought you to himself and into the fellowship of his people; don’t take it lightly. Rather, take it as an encouragement to live in his love and in turn encourage others:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25.)

And that is why I wrote:

If you belong to Jesus, you belong to the church.
     Though you might try hard not to, you do.
The One who said “Come” also said “Love
     each other as I have loved you.”

Jesus, his church, and you – an opportunity to love and encourage. What you do with that opportunity is entirely up to you.

***

[Addendum – I know there are people who have been hurt by local churches. I am not only aware but also saddened and maddened by this. There is much brokenness in some churches and in the lives of people hurt by them. When I hear instances of this I hope my first response is to pray for and encourage the person who has been hurt, and for repentance and correction in the church.]

***

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8 Responses to Why You Can’t Avoid Being In Church

  1. “We can’t help but be the church,” I like this thought. I think the difficulty is in seeing people call themselves the church and then not loving others as Jesus loved us. Saying that, it’s tough, because none of us do this perfectly. I think the problem is some don’t even seem to be trying and are quite okay with that.

    • Tim says:

      With Jesus’ Vine and branches illustration and the body analogy that Paul used, it’s easy to say we all belong. Using the word “church” though is problematic because in English we use it to mean not only the body or vine but also the local gathering of groups of believers. When the local gathering acts contrary to Jesus’ teaching it doesn’t necessarily mean they are outside the church universal but it sure makes it hard for believers to feel like they are loved.

      • Yeah “church” definitely is a tricky word in our circumstance. It’s easy to think they completely overlap. That the church as the body of Christ includes everyone who is going to church during the week. It doesn’t really work that way. Add into the fact that even those who are legitimately trying to follow Christ and reflect His love are all at different stages of life and faith. It can get more than a little messy at times.

  2. Jeannie says:

    I think this is also a helpful reminder that we’re called to love those who are Christians but don’t necessarily think as we do on various matters. I just got back from my weekly group at my church and was thinking, “Wow, I don’t see some of these issues the same way as so-and-so does AT ALL.” But we are sisters in Christ and part of the Body so we’re called to love one another.

    • Tim says:

      The part about loving as Jesus loved is one of the big challenges I face in the Body, Jeannie. It’s also one of the big blessings, so there’s that!

  3. Laura Droege says:

    I’m not certain my brain is alert enough to have these thoughts come out coherently, but here it goes:

    I agree with your post. But because of hard situations (such as what you addressed in the addendum), I wonder how to draw the line between “God is using this difficult person/situation to strengthen me and help me learn how to love others, even when they hurt me” and “this situation is intolerable, even abusive, I’m getting nowhere in addressing the problem with leadership, and it’s okay for me to leave and find a more loving local church where I’ll be accepted.” Does that make sense?

    • Tim says:

      I think if the conversation with yourself includes the words “even when they hurt me” then you are probably not in a situation where you should continue to be trying to work it out. If the situation moves to seeing some sort of opening with them to resume the conversation without them hurting you then it’s time to resume it. I hope that rambling answer makes some sort of sense.

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