There is a war going on right now. I’ve felt it. I’ve experienced it. And we can’t turn a blind eye to it any more. There is a war between churches and The Church.
This war isn’t new, but it is getting bigger and more dangerous. The war between churches and The church isn’t a physical one, but one that tears at our hearts. We confuse the ideas and we forget which side we are really fighting for. We lose sight of the ultimate goal and we dig deeper into the trenches.
First and foremost, we have to know what the differences are between churches and The Church. First, grammatically we can see a difference: churches are plural and lower case, but The Church is a singular proper noun. When I say churches, I’m referring to the physical and individual buildings and organizations that we attend on Sunday’s. But The Church is so much bigger than that. The Church isn’t a physical place and it isn’t divided into groups. The Church is the family of God. And while some might say that these two are one in the same, we can’t help but acknowledge the most important difference. Churches are an earthly place to gather with our fellow members of the family and draw closer to God. The Church is not bound by this earth. The Church can be felt in our day to day life. And The Church will transfer to heaven one day. We have to belong to The Church and not to a church.
When we choose to put all of our belonging in the churches, instead of The Church, we can fall into the trap to the battles of this world. We are divided by denomination. We worry about the performance of it all. We feel jealousy when another church has bigger numbers than our own. We argue over methods and we prioritize membership over worship. I’ve been guilty of all these things myself. Churches are made up of people, and people are sinful. That sin + forgetting the ultimate reason for their creations leads to churches that have prompted shame, taught legalism, and forgotten to love.
We have to belong to Jesus, not to our church. And when we belong to Jesus we belong to His Church, The Church. And when we belong to The Church, we are less likely to feel the divisiveness within churches. When we choose to fight for The Church, we fight for the Gospel, and our churches point to Jesus and they show his love. We feel no shame for our sins, we welcome others with open arms, we are consumed by the love of the Father. When our churches work to find their place as a part of The Church, the war loses its effects, the enemy loses his power.
The enemy has come only to steal, kill, and destroy, and we can not let him have that power in our churches. Our local churches have the power to change the world, and the enemy knows this, so he uses our sinful nature against us in a way that causes division within The Church. But when we choose to acknowledge our part as a Christian and member of The Church, our churches get stronger. And when churches get stronger, we create stronger communities. And stronger communities create stronger countries. And stronger countries create a stronger world.
Our churches can change the world. Our churches can be love and accountability and home. Our churches make up The Church. It’s time we start acting like it.