The Church Jesus Expects to Find

November 16, 2010

Tuesday Re-mix –

“The unity of Christendom is not a luxury, but a necessity. The world will go limping until Christ’s prayer that all may be one is answered. We must have unity, not at all costs, but at all risks. A unified Church is the only offering we dare present to the coming Christ, for in it alone will He find room to dwell.”
Bishop Charles Henry Brent

I had a walkway installed on the side of my house.  It had been a bunch of mud and dirt and was never going to grow grass, so we spent one Spring dressing it up.  The first major piece was a lined walkway.  I explained to the contractor what I had in mind and he seemed to understand pretty well.  “Crushed granite”, he said…”That’s what you’re looking for, right?”  Well, I had no idea.  I knew the look I wanted, but I didn’t know the name of the material.  “Yes,” I answered in complete ignorance.  I should have pressed for more clarity.

It was all installed in a day…while I was gone.  As it turns out, it was not what I had in mind at all.  It was a different color, a different consistency and pretty much completely different than what I envisioned.  But I have learned to like it.  I also learned how important it is to see the materials before you start building with them, because the materials matter.  In fact, in this case I strongly suspect that the materials I had in mind were not nearly as practical nor as useful as what I got.  So I decided to like it.

When Paul talked about the “materials” for building the church in I Corinthians 3, he also concluded that the materials matter.  He said some of us would build with common materials such as wood, hay, and straw.  Others of us would build with extraordinary materials, such as gold, silver and costly stones.  Then he said, “…his work will be shown for what it is because the Day will bring it to light…it will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”

I have seen some of the “tests” churches go through, and believe me, they do not all pass with flying colors.  Many of them crumble under the stress, because they have been “building” something other than the church.  I cannot begin to describe for you how many church leaders have come to the end of their rope with their church and have said something to the effect of, “we wasted a lot of time here on things that did not matter.”  I think Jesus would ask them, “What, exactly, were you thinking…what were you building here?”

So, what “materials” should we be using to build Christ’s church?  Are we building with the precious materials He expects us to be using?  Are we building something He will be pleased to find when He returns?  What exactly is He expecting of His “bride” upon His return?

I do not pretend to know all the answers to these questions.  But I do know one very important one: He expects unity.  I know that because, at a time in history when He knelt to pray for His future church (John 17) and He could have asked the Father for anything at all on behalf of His church, He prayed for unity.  It is one thing He will expect of us as His people.  If there is one, fundamental, primary “material” with which we are to be building, it must be unity.

So, as I think about my own church and my own work in helping to build it, I take very seriously that expectation on Jesus’ part.  I think we all should.  Whatever else you are building, whatever other materials you are using…”bleeding edge” cultural relevance, Spirit-filled worship, doctrinal purity, creative programming, dynamic preaching and teaching…whatever you value in your church, I trust that unity is at the very top of the list.  I pray that building a unified community of believers is the highest priority for you.  Because that is the church for whom He will return one day.  Wouldn’t it be a good thing if, upon His return, he finds exactly what He was hoping to find in His church?

© Blake Coffee

 

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