“The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”
—C.S. Lewis, from “Mere Christianity”
There’s plenty of reasons to “come to church”…
– Hear uplifting music and messages
– Make friends
– Meet your future husband or wife
– Support group during difficult times
– Good environment to help raise your kids in
– Do more for the community
Among many others, I am sure.
But there’s only one reason to “be the church”… that is, to be the light (of Christ) that shines in a dark place (this world). By doing so, we are a living, breathing invitation to those within our reach. People that are far away from God, seeing God in us.
The Church (that is to say, the big “C” church – worldwide body of Christ) has been God’s chosen vessel to reach the lost for nearly 2000 years now. That word, “vessel” is an interesting choice of words, as we heed Jesus’ call to be “fishers of men”. We ain’t fishing from a pier, the shore, or some other designated spot, but rather a moving vehicle. As in, let’s say perhaps… a boat!
I used to live in Georgetown, SC, a waterfront city. Many fishing boats, and more specifically, shrimping boats were docked there. If you wanted the freshest seafood available, there was no better place to get it!
And if you believe the locals, the area served as a filming location for the movie Forrest Gump.
Now if you recall, Forrest Gump had a shrimping boat he acquired named, “Jenny”. The boat was far from perfect condition. It was old, rough, and probably had a few mechanical hiccups here-and-there. But you know what? It got the job done! “Jenny” would later give birth to the “Bubba Gump Shrimp Company” which proved to be very lucrative for all involved.
I often think of The Church in the same way. You see, the expectation for The Church is perfection. Well, for us as human beings, that is impossible. It’s a tall order we were never meant to fill, so we need to be comfortable in the skin that we’re in as Christ-followers.
Yes, The Church has made mistakes centuries ago, decades ago, years ago, months ago, weeks ago, days ago, hours ago, and seconds ago. But the church has also accomplished a lot more good, than it has screwed up. (Western democracy, hospitals, and the education system are just a few examples!)
Regardless, Jesus Christ didn’t establish His Church on the expectation of perfection, but instead one of love and obedience.
He says in John 14:15,
“If you love me, keep my commands.”
This means that as The Church, we simply have to keep Christ at the center of everything we do, which will then serve as a filter keeping out the unnecessary, not-so-Christ-like bits. In other words, water projects for third world countries will move forward, while timeshare schemes will rightly be left behind.
It is reassuring in knowing that while The Church will not “get it right” 100% of the time, we are afforded much grace and multiple (but not endless) chances to do right. That is, to reflect Christ in all situations and to all people.
I personalize this as a pastor, in that I should not artificially prop myself up as some super-nice, super-righteous, clean-living version of myself. My shoulders can’t handle all that added weight! I must be “real”, sharing my struggles and being honest when I do make mistakes. Even then, that’s not the focus. In my honesty, I point out that I simply could not do this (life, ministry, being a good husband/father, etc.) without God!
As John the Baptist said in John 3:30,
“He must become greater; I must become less.”
The Church will stand tall as long as we stay true to that notion. No denomination, no seminary, no building, no program is built to handle what Jesus can! None of the charitable good we do matters if it didn’t emanate from the source.
“The Boat” may not be much to look at sometimes, but the engine is still running strong! The world has many challenges, but God is telling His children to move and meet those head-on.
Looking for a church family? Come and join us for “The Boat”, part four of Let’s Go Fishing!, this Sunday at 11am at the Hartsville Family YMCA.