The article for today is written by Joey Hickey. Joey writes about the idea of loving Jesus, but not the church. This is a popular sentiment among many people today. Joey shows us that that notion is impossible. Thanks for the article, Joey.
One of the most popular sentiments among my generation is, “I love Jesus, but don’t love religion.” They contend, “as long as you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you don’t need religion.” As far as I can tell, they’re really saying, “I love Jesus, but I don’t love the church.” The idea of not needing the church seemed odd to me, after reaping the benefits of growing up in the church. In all honesty, everything I know about Jesus I owe to being a member of the Lord’s body (the church); without the church, I would know little to nothing about Jesus.
The other day, I stumbled across a video where a man claimed, “Jesus hated religion.” This is not the picture I get when I read passages like Ephesians 5:22-33, where the Bible compares Christ and the church to a husband wife relationship, and says, in verse 29, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” The assertion that Jesus hates religion goes against the command to pay attention to “the flock” and “to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood,” in Acts 20:28.
Why would Jesus hate his wife if he commanded each husband to love, nurture, and cherish his wife? (And what kind of husband, for that matter, would want to have a very personal relationship with someone who claimed he or she hated his wife?) Why would Jesus buy (purchase) or die to preserve something that he hated?
Why would the Holy Spirit, through Paul, devote 31 verses of 1 Corinthians 12 to the importance of the church and each of its members, if the church wasn’t necessary for spiritual growth?
If we really dig in to the core of their argument, the real issue is accountability. We don’t like to own up to our sins…Or at least I know I don’t! It’s embarrassing, even scary, to admit our mistakes. Among a body of believers who seek to put Acts 20:28 into practice, people will be seeking to know how I am doing spiritually. However, the Bible commands us to confess our sins to receive God’s cleansing from unrighteousness and forgiveness of sin (1 John 1:9, James 5:16). I confess that it is not easy to confess my sins. These scriptures aim to teach us the importance of not only being accountable to God, but also to fellow members of the body! This aspect of Christianity is non-negotiable.
Every Sunday I’m in town during a semester at Harding, I, along with all the young people who attend the Little Rock congregation, get the privilege of experiencing fellowship and hospitality. One particular family, the Brown’s, invite us all to their house after morning worship to eat lunch. Every Sunday, I get the chance to partake of the Lord’s supper with fellow Christians, to think of the sacrifices made for my salvation, and honor Jesus by doing what the apostles did nearly 2,000 years ago before he died for me. Knowing what it is to be a member of the Lord’s body, I can say without a doubt, religion is not a curse! James 1:26 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
If we practice pure religion, what’s not to love?