I have a long way to go in terms of appreciating the significance of the church. I know that the local church is at the heart of God’s plan for reaching the world for His glory. I have believed this for a long time, but understanding and applying a truly biblical theology of the church is still largely uncharted territory for me.
I am thankful, however, that for our church leadership, this is a goal and a priority. For many churches today, a theological discussion of the church is not even on the radar screen. Individualism reigns in so many churches. Ecumenism, pluralism, tolerance, pragmatism and political correctness all militate against a healthy theology of the church. A church that corporately strives for holiness through a disciplined membership – in both the proactive and reactive senses of discipline – is a rare thing in Western Evangelicalism.
There is a lot of good news for the church, however. First and foremost, the church is Christ’s project, and He will not fail to bring it through all challenges successfully. I praise God for modern reformers who are modeling and teaching a new generation about the richness of a disciplined, well rounded church. I could mention a few, but Mark Dever and CJ Mahaney spring to mind immediately.
The reason I am thinking of these things is not merely academic – though thinking well and clearly about the church requires no apology. I love the church because I love the people in my church and I love seeing how unity in the truth is growing breadth and depth in people that I care about. I love how it is not me but God who is working through various servants in the church to bring passion and maturity to believers in surprising and delightful ways. I am enthusiastic about the potential for leadership development and evangelistic effectiveness in our church.
Not everyone is on side. I would be a fool if I thought our church was – or could be – perfect. We have a lot of work to do, but we’ve seen God’s faithfulness through a terribly difficult year. I believe we are poised for a new year of genuine blessing. We still have some yeast of malice and wickedness in the old lumps we’re dragging around, but Christ has done all that is necessary for us to be new lumps individually and corporately.
I pray that God will give me the humility to see the yeast in my life before I try to point out the yeast in the lives of the people under my care. However, the word is our broom and we must be bold in our humility as we speak the truth in love.
Christ loves His bride. What a wonder and a joy to be among that number. May our love for the church grow stronger and stronger as we grow together in purity and maturity.