Who is the church for? I’m not asking about the building. I’m asking about the body of believers that gathers regularly for worship and fellowship. Who is the church for?
Sometimes I don’t think we as Christians even know who the church is for. Sure, we have the Sunday School answer down and quickly shout out ‘Jesus!’ But when it comes to practice, is that really what we believe? If the motives of our heart were projected onto a giant screen for all to see, would Christ clearly be at the heart?
I ask these to be honest and real with you. I am not sure that our heart always agrees with our mouth. While we may say that the church is for Jesus, our actions betray our words, as we actually believe that the church is for us. This is no secret. We show up to a worship service looking for a message or a new program that will benefit us. We are quick to criticize the pastor when we cannot follow the message or did not find it personally relevant. We have few reservations in complaining about the youth program as if they have the ultimate responsibility of spiritually raising up our children. And if the worship music is too loud, too fast, or too different, then we know exactly who to tell.
We may say that church is for Jesus, but we act as if church is solely for us. It’s like the radio. If we don’t like a particular song, we turn the dial until we find something that suits us. As Christians, we regularly do this with church, even to the point of leaving a congregation because it does not meet our desires. Christians ridicule people like Thomas Jefferson who cut out pieces of the Bible that he disagreed with and pasted together his own. That seems ridiculous and maybe even heretical to us. Yet when it comes to cutting up the church and pasting together the pieces that we like, we have no hesitations.
Brothers and sisters, we are shooting ourselves in both feet. When the church solely becomes about us, we subtract from giving Christ glory and we weaken the potential of the body. The church is for Christ. It is to glorify and honor Him. When we treat the church as a place to consume rather than give, we shift the focus of glory from God to ourselves. We also take God’s right to speak into our lives away from Him. We only listen to the sermons that sound interesting or make us feel good. If we get bored or disinterested we can simply leave. As Christians, we need to take a step down and allow for God to teach us what He wants to (Isaiah 48:17). We need to make church about Christ.
When church becomes about us we also weaken the potential of the body. God places us in a church community to build it up through the gifts and talents that He has given us. When we only look to benefit ourselves, we withhold those gifts. We complain about not being filled by the message or not feeling supported by a church, but how are we filling up or supporting others? Are we gossiping about the ministry’s leaders? Are we complaining about the programs? Are we judgingly comparing churches? These actions only weaken the body, they do not build it up.
We point fingers at church leaders and at programs, asking ‘Why aren’t you taking care of me?’ Pastors are amazingly gifted people, but pastors are not perfect and they’re not superheroes. Personally I am neither. They cannot carry that weight we put on them to meet every personality or every need in the church. Nor can the programs. We must play our role, we must step up and be the church. We must be the body that take responsibility to love God and love others as Christ has loved us. If we believe that the church is for Jesus then it will be reflected in how we worship Him and serve others. We will move from a First Church of Me to the Body of Christ.
Who is the church for? Our answer is in our actions. What are you going to do?