We know She’s not perfect, but She’s irreplaceable. Being part of the Church – the Bride of Christ – is an experience I can hardly put words to. We labor for Her. We try to make sure the Bride honors His name and draws people to Him. But a lot of times, we also complain about Her. The people She allows in. The old ways and new ways of doing things. The pain we’ve experienced. The faults we see.
The Apostle Paul gave some instruction to a local church – the Philippians – that has been on my mind as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16
So, today, I’m focusing on why I’m thankful for the local church. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today. How about you?
1) Scripture-based songs I learned at church as a kid still pop into my head from time to time.
Ok, so I’m not always thankful when this happens! My thought here is that the Church helped me learn God’s Word as a child, and in times of need, those Scriptures still come to my mind — sometimes with a cheesy accompanying melody, but still…
2) I had a youth pastor and youth pastor’s wife (and countless other adults) who invested in me at a young age.
It wasn’t always spiritual – sometimes it was just watching a movie, or playing games or hanging out – but the things I learned from them shaped my growth as a teen.
3) It showed me God’s heart for family.
My dad was a pastor, and our Thanksgiving holidays usually included any single mothers in our church, as well families who were far from their relatives. I loved seeing that all were welcome in God’s family. I’ve also seen friends from broken homes figuratively adopted by families in the church, showing them the Father’s heart.
4) It taught me the peril of isolating yourself.
I’m a person who can learn from the mistakes of others. (I realize there are plenty of you who have to test the waters yourselves. Enjoy that–I’d rather skip the consequences!) I’ve seen firsthand the danger that comes with isolating yourself, as I saw friends pull away from the church and then pull away from God.
5) It gave me memorable experiences of grace.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine just how complete the grace of God is. But each time someone shows you it becomes a little more real. God has used friends, teachers and leaders in the Church to show me grace when I didn’t deserve it. And at other times, when people in the church behaved in ways that didn’t bring Him glory, God has taught me to have grace for them.
6) It provided opportunities for me to be involved in ministry even when I was young.
My faith never grew so much as when I was given opportunities to minister, even as a teen and young adult. My faith grew in action alongside more mature Christians.
7) It keeps my eyes focused on the eternal.
No matter what is happening in life, the Church exists to draw people to Jesus. Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes. He is what matters. And I come back to that again and again – through trial and triumph – because of the Church.
It’s your turn. Why are you thankful for the Church?
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