"I love Jesus, but I have decided that the church thing is not for me." This is a direct quote from a thirty year old man with a wife and two children who has been in church his entire life until now. In a recent book, "The Rise of the Nones", the author makes the case that people have forsaken the church for various reasons and religions, but the fastest growing church affiliation in America among millenials is None.
There are many reasons people leave church today, but the en vogue reason that I have heard in the region of the country in which I pastor is "I am a Jesus follower, I will not be in a man made system." On the surface this sounds really great, but when you dig just a quarter of an inch below that statement you find that it is chalked full of faulty logic, false humility, lack of authority and accountability, and very shallow theology.
"John, would you like to join us at our home following Sunday services"? asked a friend and church member recently. "Let me check with Sara and we will look at our schedule and see if we can join you." A funny look came across he and his wife's face and they replied, "John, you are welcome to come, but we really do not want Sara to join us, we have some real problems with her. We love you but really do not want anything to do with her."
You can only imagine the hurt that caused me! We are a package deal, you cannot love me and hate my wife. You cannot invite me to dinner and tell me my wife is not welcome! We are intertwined, connected, one flesh, we are married just like....... Jesus is married to His church. Just in case you are wondering, this is a ficticious story that illustrates the faulty logic of someone who states they love Jesus but do not want to love, fellowship, encourage, strengthen, and assemble faithfully with His bride.
Paul states in 2 Corinthians 11:2, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
Jesus loves His church and His people deeply, so deeply that He died for us and sends His Spirit to enable us to live victoriously for Him and preach His message to the world! No church is perfect just as no spouse is perfect. But maybe if we would stop throwing the church under the bus and start praying for her, loving her, investing in her, and working to bring others into a right relationship with Jesus, we might find that our imperfect church is great because of her perfect Heavenly Bridegroom!
Do not buy into the faulty logic that you can follow Jesus and forsake His Church. If you are truly following Jesus you will love who Jesus loves, His imperfect people saved by His perfect grace. Instead of being hard and harsh on His Church, tenderly nurture and foster strong relationships with His Church, after all, you may need her one day.