Thinking Out Loud . . . about the church
May 16, 2016 – Pastor Ian Lawson, lead pastor
I’m amazed by the diversity of the church. There is no gathering of people with greater variety than the local church. She is made up of young and old; singles and families; poor and wealthy; highly educated and those who’ve not finished high school; employers and employees; students and professors; retirees and working; women and men; divorced and happily married (or unhappily married); babies and grandparents; socially awkward and popular. In our church, on any Sunday, we have a multitude of ethnicities, beyond the Mennonites and Dutch! It’s a remarkable gathering of unusual diversity.
Beyond demographics, there is more. Among us, there are various political ideologies: Liberals and NDPs and Conservatives. There is theological diversity on many topics: from hermeneutics, to women in leadership, to views on creation. Some are new followers of Christ, just beginning their faith journey, and others have walked with Christ for many years. Some came to Christ as adults and others as children. Some are mature in faith and others are weak. There is no gathering that rivals the local church in its diverse perspectives and maturity.
What is it that brings such a gathering together? Diversity like that usually divides. But, we gather with a single purpose. We share in the worship of the King. It’s the object of our worship that unites us, as we give our attention and affections to the risen Christ. We gather together as a divergent people who follow our Savior, King Jesus.
The existence of the local church in all her complexities is nothing short of a miracle. Where else would such an eclectic gathering be found? The existence of the church stands as a testimony to something unusual, even miraculous. I continue to be amazed how the church of Jesus Christ is found in every culture of the world. Other world religions have dominance in a geographical region: Hinduism in India; Islam in Middle East; Buddhism in Far East. Not so with Christianity. We have roughly equal distribution in every continent. There are Christians in every country of the world, whether underground as in Saudi Arabia or very visible as in Korea. These realities about the church are a living apologetic for the Christian faith.
With this amazing diversity, God has chosen to use the church as His instrument for working in the world today. The Church is at the heart of Jesus’ mission: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). I love the local church. I love our church. In spite of her imperfections and shortcomings, God has chosen to make the church his instrument of blessing in the world. We can have disagreements on matters of hermeneutics and theology, while sharing together the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are things about the local church that I don’t like. However, I find myself increasingly in love with the Church. Why? Very simply because Jesus is in love with the Church – “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). He even calls the church “his bride”. If Jesus loved the Church that much then we should too!
That’s what I’m thinking about,
Tags: blog, christ, christian, church, diversity, ian lawson
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