As pandemic disruptions ease, will you return to church?
You may be seriously asking: Why be part of the Church? Why participate in a flawed Church? Why return to this local church?
The Church, capital C, is comprised of everyone who trusts Jesus as Savior and follows Him as Lord. The earliest followers of Jesus immediately came together as a community of faith, devoted to teaching, prayer, common meals, and mutual care (Acts 2:42-47).
They understood that the life of faith is easily compromised by distractions and adversity. They knew that to survive and thrive as a follower of Jesus, the Word of God needed to fall on good soil; and they found that good soil in the Church (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23).
Why participate in a flawed Church? Even in the earliest days of the church there were troubles (Acts 5:1-11; 6:1-7). The New Testament addresses a litany of problems: disunity, immorality, legalism, rivalry, conflict, heresy, and laziness.
In short, the church is flawed because we are flawed. Jesus came to save sinners (Mark 2:17). When we were enmeshed in wrongdoing, he loved us, forgave us, and began the work, which is still unfinished, of mending and healing us (Ephesians 2:4-10).
How can we demand a perfect church when we, ourselves, are still encumbered by the residue of sin (Luke 6:41-42)? To be part of a flawed church, though, is not an indictment; it is a compelling reminder of the Good News of grace.
Why be part of this church—small c, the local church we have been attending? In this church we will be stretched by the failings of others who, as we have seen close-up, also follow Jesus imperfectly. These shortcomings push us to strengthen our heart, recalibrate our mind, and call us back to live and serve together (James 1:2-4).
The New Testament has a word for full engagement in a church, koinonia. The word describes persons who are bonded together as participants in a shared life, as partners in a common purpose. It sums up what we all need to follow Jesus in earnest: the kinship and partnership of God’s people in the church.