Is Church Really A Big Deal?
By Fin Sheridan
Bride. Army. City. Body. Temple. Family. These are rich metaphors, filled with layers and meaning. Yet the truth about church is even bigger. We have these metaphors to help us but I wonder if we won’t ever truly grasp what church is, could be and the eternal significance until Revelation 21 kicks in and we find ourselves in the New Heaven and New Earth.
The church (by which I mean, the people of God, worldwide) is as diverse as the opinions and feelings about it. There are variations on gatherings, belief and style, convictions about what matters and what doesn’t, innovations and quirks that some swear by and others might want to swear at. This diversity is beautiful and wondrous but it also can leave people feeling confused and frustrated by church.
Church is the people of God, whether gathered or scattered. It’s not a 10.30am meeting on a Sunday or a cross topped building; it’s the collective noun for a group of Christians. A flock of birds. A herd of goats. A church of Christians. Since the church is made up of Christians and Christians are people and people hurt each other, sometimes it feels like following Jesus would be easier without church.
“Church is the people of God, whether gathered or scattered.”
I know plenty of people who feel that, and I’m sure you do. Is church really necessary? Does God really want us to be a part? Surely following Jesus is predominantly a private, individual relationship? Church can get messy, even painful at times and withdrawing ourselves to occasional, casual involvement becomes extremely attractive.
Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t really give us that permission. It is the church that Jesus is coming back for (John 14:3). It is through the church that God has decided to display his wisdom (Ephesians 3:10). It is the church that Paul calls “the household of God and the pillar and foundation of the truth”. The church is many things but it is not optional or insignificant.
Church is more than just a “big deal”; it’s the eternal family of God. Earthly families bicker and fight, just as the church might, but every human being knows that family is the most precious gift and a loving one is worth more than all the money in the world. Despite our differences, despite a complex past, despite frustrations and feelings, becoming and being the church is still worth fighting for.