Have you heard it said, “Oh, I’m a Christian, I’m just not a big fan of the church,” or “I love Jesus, but I’m not into church,” or “I don’t need to be in the church to be a Christian”? Maybe family members come to mind or friend groups have said things like this before or maybe you are that person.
When you really reflect on statements like these, it becomes clear how false they truly are.
When someone says, “I don’t need to be in the church to be a Christian,” I sort of understand where he is coming from. In some sense it is true, my salvation has nothing to do with my church attendance. According to scripture, salvation comes by grace alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Galatians 2:16 says, “Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
What cannot be understated is that Christ loves the church. In fact, he died for the church. And if someone claims to follow Christ and be a Christian, than they cannot hate what Christ loves (Ephesians 5:25-30). We have no choice, but to love and embrace the Church, despite her brokenness and flaws.
Once I truly become a disciple of Christ, having a true regenerated heart, my whole perspective on the church changes. It is no longer about believing that I have to go to church to be a Christian; instead, since I am a Christian, I get the privilege of being a part of the church.
If you don’t love the Body of Christ, I would encourage you to check your heart. Where does this view come from? Is it from a past experience? Unfortunately, many base their view of the Church at large from a negative experience with an individual church. They dismiss the entire Bride of Christ because of the failure of one local body. Or for you, maybe you hold the church at arms length because you fear others discovering your own flaws? Or does your low view of the Church flow from a low view of Christ?
Don’t push away the Bride; love her as Christ did.