Walking Away from the Church
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: “The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.” —Revelation 2:1
A lot of people are fed up with the church today, many of whom have been in it for most if not all their lives. The drift away from local church fellowship, worship, and community represents a troubling trend, fueled by everything from fatigue and disillusionment to practical convenience. Many no longer see the church as a relevant, necessary part of their lives. And they’re leaving.
But lest we think we can just walk away from the church or discard it as an unnecessary option, be reminded that Christ is attached to His church. You cannot separate the “head” from the “body” (Eph. 5:23). To walk away from the church is to walk away from Christ and what He is doing in the world today.
No, the church in general is not perfect, nor is yours in particular. The first-century church itself struggled with all sort of issues, as evidenced throughout the New Testament writings. And yet, where do we see Jesus when He reveals His message to the apostle John? He is walking among the “lampstands,” the visual image of local churches. He holds their leaders, their people, and their entire identities in His hand. He will not—cannot—forsake His own body and bride. He loves her, cares for her, and dwells within her.
So weep for the church. Intercede for her. Plead with God to restore her to righteousness, unity, and great usefulness in our time. But do not walk away from the church. Even knowing what He knows about the faults and foibles of the churches, Christ still walks in and among them. He laid down His life for the church; He is committed to protecting, preserving, and purifying her. How can we not love the church, bear with it, and join Him in seeking its revival and restoration?
What is your current relationship with your church? How might the things that distress you about the church become your reason to draw nearer rather than distance yourself?