Tag Archives: Christ

Things I Love Part Two: The Church (Global and Local)

Part two in my week long series of honoring things I esteem.  Yesterday I posted about the gospel.  Today it is the church.

It is a temptation to look at the squabbling and weak doctrine of the western church and say something like “I love Jesus, but I can do without the church.”  The problem is two fold: 1) if we love Jesus, we are the church and 2) if we love Jesus we will love the things He loves, and He loves the church!

On the big picture, the longer I am a Christian, the more encouraged I am to be a part of a worldwide and historical “crowd of witnesses” who have been redeemed by Christ and emboldened by the power of the Holy Spirit.  To know that I stand in the same spiritual company as individuals like Augustine, Jan Hus, John Wycliffe, and groups of Christians like the Hugenots, the Lollards, the Puritans is both humbling and inspiring.  Looking at scripture, and knowing that the covenant promises made to Abraham were made with me in mind (as Rich Mullins puts it, “one star he saw had been lit for me”) is an awesome thing on days when I feel like I’m floating through life by the skin of my teeth and the seat of my kids’ pants.  If being a Christian was just about trying harder all by myself I’d be in big trouble, but it’s not.

This Sunday, as I listened to our St. Louis pastor welcome us to the worship service I heard an echo of Mitch, our Georgia pastor, and realized that I am so blessed to have two local church bodies to cherish and love.  On paper our two churches look very different.  If someone in an office somewhere was putting together a collection of pastors from similar churches to attend a discussion or workshop or class, our two pastors would never end up in the same room.  Three weeks ago, while preaching on Matthew 13:44-46, our St. Louis pastor remarked that whatever you might think is wrong with your church isn’t.  It’s all a treasure problem.  Again, I heard the echo of Mitch in a discussion about what the cause of some minor controversy was that the real problem was that we didn’t love Jesus enough.

This too boils down to a love of the gospel.  You see, while not perfect, both of these churches are being transformed by the power of the gospel about which I wrote yesterday.  Rather than preaching messages and teaching classes that boil down to “get up and try harder,” they are proclaiming the power of the cross and the consuming love of Christ.  In Georgia the bulletin reads “A Community of Grace,” and here it says “Grace Changes Everything.”  In neither places is it a catch phrase.  The same power that transformed Augustine, emboldened the Lollards and enlightened the Puritans is at work in these local bodies and alive in their pulpits.  This gospel breeds humility, hospitality and community, and both churches are alive with all three.

So as I look at the church triumphant throughout history and the local bodies with which our spirits are knit, I say to you:  “This is the bride of Christ, who was bought with His blood and robed in His righteousness.  Isn’t she beautiful?”


Things I Love Part One: The Gospel

Last week all of my favorite artsy fartsy blogs were heart and lace and chocolate themed in honor of today which always brings out my cynicism a little.  Frankly I would rather have my husband bring me a flower or a treat or a small note of love and appreciation on a completely random day instead of a day in which it is culturally mandated. ( Plus, the history of the day?  eeew.)

All weekend, however, I was challenged with how I honor the things I esteem.  No one set out to challenge me, but I guess the Lord thought I needed to learn it this weekend.  So all week I’m going to post about the things I love, but not because of some goat sacrifice to Remus.

Things I Love Part One:  The Gospel

God is the sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent creator of the universe and if He was only those things He would deserve our worship and our fear, but it is the gospel that garners our affections.  It is an act so large and powerful that it actually rended the Trinity – something I acknowledge but can’t even begin to comprehend.

Here it is.  All of creation being completely and utterly corrupted by sin, and all of humanity being in open rebellion against the all powerful ruler of the universe, they are rightly, and justly, sentenced to death.  Then, in an inexplicable act, God himself steps into the midst of the insurrection and for some of the very traitors trying to establish themselves as kings and  queens of the Universe, he took their punishment on himself.  This was no legal slight-of-hand.  He did not issue an edict of pardon.  Instead he became their treason, suffering millions of eternities in hell on their (our) behalf.  But He didn’t stop there.  He did not leave his subjects in a neutral spiritual position.  When He became our sin, he made us His righteousness.  We stand in a place of honor because he became our disgrace.

What do I love?  Why do I love?  How am I able to love?  It’s all about Christ and the gospel.  There isn’t anything more than that.