I have written before on how I think that saying you are a part of the global church while opting out of a local church is a ridiculous thought. That concept, I believe, exists in part because of how quickly technology has connected us globally, and also in part because of the fact that we don’t love the things Jesus loves. The local church will exist always and forever. It will outlast your marriage, your family, and your legacy—you will worship eternally with the global church made local.
Derek Webb’s song “The Church” cuts to the heart of this morning’s sermon. I’d encourage you to listen to it. The song starts at the 3:30 mark; until then, you get Derek’s thought on worship styles and churches that divide over them (please note his thoughts are not my endorsement one way or another). If you know a bit of Derek’s story, you know now there’s a tragic irony to his statements.
What makes the local church unique? We discussed five ideas this morning from 1 Peter 4:7-11 . . .
- The church has a unique perspective. “The end is near,” says Peter. Jesus could return at any moment. That statement is just as true now as it was then—tempering the way we live in this world. It is not our home, and our perspective on the world—all of human history, actually—belongs to the church.
- The church has a unique dependence. Lots of people pray; lots of faiths pray. However, the reality of Christ’s return changes the focus of our prayers. The Christian has no option but to be dependent if we are to do anything of enduring value.
- The church has a unique love. Our love is to be in earnest. Lots of people can love; earnest love continues. It fights. It abides. It works. It protects. And it covers sin.
- The church has a unique hospitality. The hospitality the church shows is “without grumbling.” I know what you’re thinking—
“You don’t know my family, though.” I’ve looked for the opt-out clause for that statement. It doesn’t exist. Our hospitality to one another should be such that when we say, “Please stay with us,” we mean it.
- The church has a unique design. Our gifts come from God, and they are used (be they speaking or serving) in order to serve the church—which makes God more evident in this world.
When it comes to church life, many of us wait for the church to do something for us or be something for us. We say, “Well, nobody talked to me,” or “Nobody asked me,” or, “They didn’t have the right program for me and my family.” The reasons to opt out are many, but the reasons to opt in are eternal. That’s why we landed on this line:
BE FOR OTHERS WHAT YOU WANT YOUR CHURCH TO BE FOR YOU.
Only when we all dive into the glorious gift of the church do we realize how good of a gift it is. Warts and all.