The church is terribly important in the Bible.
After all, it is called the body and bride of Christ. For most men, their wife and their own body come pretty high up on their list of priorities, and I believe the Bible uses those metaphors for that very reason.
Today, even many otherwise theologically sound believers want to neglect the importance of the church. Of course, they would rarely ever say this exactly. But often when they speak, it becomes clear that they nearly always speak about the universal church instead of the local church.
Don’t get me wrong, the idea of the universal church is important. I love reading about church history, specifically because I know that in Christ I am reading about my brothers and sisters. The universal church, that transcends time and space, is a glorious truth.
The local church is no less glorious, but it often doesn’t feel like it.
It’s invigorating to read about Ambrose of Milan defiantly refusing to sway his conscience at the Roman Emperor’s command. But it’s less invigorating to sit through a business meeting talking about what the new paint color of nursery’s walls should be.
Our emotions are stirred when we read stories of miraculous conversions from missionaries we support. But they are significantly less stirred when we listen to an older member tell us the same story about their grandchild for the ninth time.
Passion is ignited when reading Calvin’s Institutes or Spurgeon’s sermons. But it’s difficult to find such passion when we learn that a beloved family is leaving to join another church because they dislike the new leader’s style of worship.
The local church looks less glorious than the universal church, but the universal church is composed of regular, sinful people, just like the local church. We see the universal church as more exciting because the stories that travel across time and oceans are typically the worthwhile ones. And if we hear stories of Christians in sin, we can simply dismiss those them as not being a part of the real church. That’s far easier than looking contrition in the face and walking with a brother or sister through the bumpy road of repentance and reconciliation.
Although we get much benefit from the writings and lives of Christianity’s theologians, almost all of them devoted themselves primarily to serving their church. They were pastors, deacons, and members of local churches before they were ever giants to the church universal.
The local church is not perfect, but she is the bride and body of Christ.
Bear with her.
This quick post was inspired by this video of Paul Washer.
You really should watch it.
Like right now.