Monday, March 27, 2006
Article, "Why Church?"
After 12 years pastoring in the local church and teaching pastoral ministry in the seminary, I now find myself in a "transition" and stage of waiting upon the Lord's next direction. It started a few months ago when I finally completed my doctoral degree and dissertation about the state of pastors. It seems that the Lord allows a door to close and He is about to open new doors for me.
I love the church. But I got hurt and wounded while serving in it. Of course, I always repent or see to it that I'm not the one doing wrong. I want my conscience to be clear before God. Still, for some reason, I got hurt even while "doing nothing" and Christians continue to hurt each other in the local church. My heart is pained for even my closest friends over the years have betrayed me.
The church, according to the Bible, is supposed to be a family of God. That means, a place of safety and trust. Instead, even in the experience of so many other Christians, the church can turn into a place of struggle, disunity, and politics. Even among pastors or fellow workers, one can find envy, selfishness, covetousness, and backbiting, when there should be love, harmony, and true Christian brotherhood.
I wish I was exempted from this pain. But why should I? O yes, I remember now, even the early church Christians had this very same problem!
I still love and believe in the church. I believe we can find community, safety, and security amid a broken world when I belong to a church. The church may indeed be a place that is truly home. It's a place where you can feel accepted and loved no matter who you are or what you've done. It's a place where you experience family and cherish what life essentially is.
As the Apostle Paul said, "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household ... built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22).
However, a fact of life is that these hopes are not always realized in the church. The church, though a divinely appointed body, is also a human institution fraught with human frailty. The church is often less than a family, a community, or body of true believers.
So, in one practical sense, the church is not really "home" for us. Instead of unity and brotherhood, one can often find in it lots of struggles, strife, and politics. It is also a place of failure and tears, not just love. I almost gave up on the church.
But why do I still love and believe in the church? For one, Christ calls us all to be part of His Body. His call is for us not to be solitary believers but to be in community. He wants us to take an active part in His family.
Thus, God places the church as our "companionship on the road," imperfect though it may be. I remain part of the church. I do so not because the church can meet all my needs. I do so because it's part of God's calling for us as Christians in our journey of faith and life.