People say there are a lot of hypocrites at church. It's true. There are a lot of hypocrites at church. There are also a lot of hypocrites at Walmart. But that never stopped you from going, has it?
Someone once said, "Not going to church because it is full of hypocrites is like not going to the gym because it is full of out of shape people." Ummm. Yeah, that's the point. I am telling you, don't ever let a hypocrite, including your own hypocrisy, get between you and a relationship with God.
Church, at least a good church, is the only place in which one of the pre-requisites for being a part of it, is to know that you are messed up and full of sin, possibly even a hypocrite. Jesus didn't come to save the righteous but the unrighteous.
In other words, get over your preconceived idea that you somehow got it all together, and come join us. Just like a gym is a place where people go to work on their physical needs. A church is a called out gathering of people who have come to see a great need, the great truths of the spiritual. Things like life and death, heaven, and hell.
You need redemption and reconciliation and restoration just as much as everyone else gathering each Sunday.
A church isn't a gathering of people who got it all together. It's a gathering of people that have, by God's grace, realized they don't have it all together. God, in His infinite overflowing love, has done the tremendous by bending down low in sending his one and only Son to rescue vile, sinful wretches.
All the other places in the world, people revel in their hypocrisy. Church (the gathering of the redeemed), is the only place in the world where yes, we might be hypocrites and other awful things still, but we hate that. That's not our identity. Our identity is in Christ. We are accepted and forgiven by Christ not because we have arrived at some standard, but solely because Christ loved us and gave himself for us.
We then do battle with our hypocrisy and other awful sins that beseech us. That's the thing about church. We do it together.
God has rescued us from our sin. So we gather week in and week out, not because we are perfect but because we are not. So that we might encourage, comfort, and love each other to be better repenters. To be better followers of Jesus Christ. To better be able to walk in the forgiveness found in Jesus, as justified saints who still sin but don't want to, because they have tasted and seen the grace of God found in the cross of Christ.
Friend, if you are one of those people who have never wanted to go to church because it is filled with hypocrites and self-righteous. I urge you now to repent of your self-righteousness and hypocrisy. To own up to your own sin. Repent of it and come to Christ. And then join the club.
Now don't get me wrong, there are some terrible churches out there, but just because there are bad ones doesn't mean you shouldn't seek a good and real one. That would be like not eating because there are all kinds of bad food out there.
You need the kind of redemption that is only found in Christ. And then you need to live out that redemption. All the ups and downs of it. And God's plan for doing it is in the context of doing it with other brothers and sisters who you come to know and become entwined with. Why? Because the Christian life is hard. It never in a million years was meant to be lived alone. God's plan is the church. And not some invisible church that never meets but an actual church filled with real people who have been saved by God's grace, not by works - on account of Christ finished work and only his finished work. So yeah, we are saved by Christs' righteousness, not our own. By his works, not ours.
How does that happen? By faith. That's right; Christ work is counted or credited to us as our work through faith. And now by faith, we strive to live God's way, that is, according to his word. And by God's power, because the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us after we have trusted in Christ.
"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 1:13)
Yes, find a church filled with people like that. Because that is a true church, and that is God's plan for the Christian life. How can I say that? Well, I could say a lot to back that up. But suffice it to say there is a reason that 21 out of the 27 books in the New Testament where written to churches, instructing them and guiding them and correcting them on how to correctly function.
Christ said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18b)
And then in the book of Acts, the early Jesus followers, being led by the Apostles, and empowered by the Spirit started doing - they began establishing churches. And that's what real Christians are still doing today; establishing, planting, and strengthening churches. Why? Because it is God's way. It is what was modeled to us by the Apostles.
Matthew 28:19-20 says, "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Jesus said he would build his church. Therefore, we can either think the Apostles did not do it correctly. Or we have to assume the way Christ is building his church is precisely how the Apostles did it. Lots of local churches all over in different places. You have to admit it is practical. It is hard for all Christians everywhere to gather regularly at one time. But individual bodies, it's not too hard. It is what Jesus did. He had a smaller group that he was really close to and then he sent them out after the Spirit came to do the same thing. To replicate what he did with them. Gathering groups together here and there by the power of Jesus' name and saying, now you do life together and center it on his word.
Yes, churches can work together and they should, but there should be something special about your own. Just like families can work together but there is something special about your own. So find a church, it's God's plan. A good church is like a hospital for the wounded, a training ground for battle, and a family all rolled up into one. Find one and pour your life into it.
I know I used the idea of hypocrisy as a springboard to launch into where we are now. I am sorry. Some of the stuff in here might not make a lot of sense. So much more could be said. My only hope is that I got you to think a little that church might not be what you at first thought it to be. To appreciate the importance of it, and most importantly, to not write it off as just another club. Because it is way more than that. It's ok to not be ok. It's just not ok to stay that way. True churches are filled with people whose heartbeat is this important truth.