Why the Church?

[Notes made from talk by Lisa Parkes]

When we individually go through a short-term crisis, we can usually go back to normal as if nothing has happened. But when we go through a long-term crisis, facing a challenge that seems bigger and greater than we could handle, it causes us to reflect ‘why are we doing this?’

Eighteen months ago, church as we knew it stopped; it was taken away from us; we lost it. People have stopped experiencing the power of God and the community. Not being able to attend church in person, but online has opened our eyes, and made us realise how important the church is and why it matters.

So, for today’s blog, we are reflecting on why the church matters to us and to our communities.

Why as a church, do we need to gather either online or in person?

Why does the church matter?
By asking questions, it resets us to the beginning. In the house, the answer to almost anything that isn’t working is a RESET. Phones, computers – turn them off and on again and everything is… well fixed. As we reset as a church, we have to consider the two types of resets: back to factory setting or reset as it was. But as we reassess, we need to make sure that we reset as the church that God has intended us to be, so that God can restore his original intention with our church.

The idea of the church began with Jesus. Jesus spoke to his followers and said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The church is an integral part of Jesus’s plans, and when he called all of humanity to him, he also called us to each other.

Ephesians chapter 3, written by the apostle Paul, shows how the church was questioning why it matters, and why it is so important to God. Paul stated: ‘His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

If there’s ever been a declaration that sums up the wonder and significance of the church, it’s here.

The church is God’s intention

‘His intent was that now through the church…’ why does it matter? It’s because everything that God intends to do for the good of human history he does through the church. When Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross and rose after three days, his vision for humanity was not just to restore us to God but also restore our relationship with each other too. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I have no idea what God is doing”? When you are going through crisis/pandemic/suffering… you think, “What is God doing?” In these moments it’s so hard to understand what God is doing. So, then our faith can be challenged or weakened as we try to make sense of what is going on in life. When suffering has no meaning it’s unbearable. It is actually when there is meaning in our suffering that we can find the resilience to overcome.

Together we show God to the world

Paul let us know that God is working in the church. Even when we don’t see it, he is doing something in the world. If we look at the church, you will see his fingerprints. We are the vehicle he chooses to use. if we want people to understand that God is good, then the goodness worked through the people of the church will show it. If we want the world to know God is love, then it’s essential that people see God’s love demonstrated through the church. If we want the world to see God as the source of all hope, the church has to become a source of hope. People around me, my family, and the people close to my heart know that I love them not because I say it all the time, but they know because my actions towards them are motivated by love. They see my love in action, and God’s love is seen through the church and its action. As the wind blows, you feel its impact, but you can’t see it. You can see love when you can see sacrifice. You can see God when you see the church engaged in serving each other and the world in the name of Jesus.

The church is proof of God in the world. His wisdom is revealed when we move together.

The fullness of God is experienced

Paul tells us that the fullness in God is experienced as we come together as the church. His love is to be unwrapped. We have to be rooted and established in love. Sometimes we want to see the power of God, but the power of God cannot be known outside of the love of God. If you don’t step into the love of God, you won’t know the power of God. Some of the worst expressions of faith are those fixated on power and not rooted in love – “and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).

When we know this love, we can be filled with the presence of God – God is to be experienced… His love is to be tangible, the effects noticeable to those around us, but to us as well, overflowing from our lives.

Let us pray:

Lord God, I thank you for your church, for your overflowing love and mercy. Thank you that through the church we are gathered to worship your greatness and glory but also, we can reach people that are most in need. Lord, let us step into your love, allow us to understand why the church matters to us and to the community. Let us, through faith be able to approach you with love, and confidence and glorify you with all our hearts, minds, and souls. Amen