Are you Catholic or Lutheran or Presbyterian? Perhaps you are Pentecostal or Baptist or….any one of a number of denominations claiming to be The Way to God or Way to Heaven. In reality, there is only One Way to Heaven and that is through claiming Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you believe Jesus died for you and accept that gift of God’s Grace, that is The Most Important Thing. Much of the rest of beliefs that make up various denominations are details set according to some human’s interpretation of God’s Word. So, as long as we have Jesus at the Center, let’s focus on our commonalities instead of our differences and let God Lead the Way.
This blog is one in a journey of a Getting to Know God series. The names and attributes of God are adapted from a guide on the Navigators website called 30 Days of Praying the Names and Attributes of God. Today’s blog corresponds with the 27th Day – God is the Church’s Head.
Today our guide says this: “God is the Church’s Head. God the Son, Jesus, is the head of the Church. As the head, the part of the body that sees, hears, thinks, and decides. He give the orders that the rest of the body lives by.”
Our verses for today are:
Ephesians 1:22-23 (MSG)
At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.
This name of God may trouble you a bit, especially if you have had any struggles with churches in the past. I chose The Message translation of these verses because I liked what it says about the world being peripheral to the church. I think that many a church could read this passage and would do well to fully investigate it and give it heed. I don’t say this from a seat of judgment but rather from a heart that has seen MAN get in the way of God’s church and send God’s people running into hiding.
All of our “religions” are a very sticky wicket. In my humble opinion, that is because so much of their basis tends to be man-made rules and interpretations and so many of the denominations put Christ in the back seat. It is like that bumper sticker you may have seen, “Jesus is my co-pilot” when in all actuality churches and Christians should be allowing Jesus to be their pilot. I actually just prayed that for myself the other day. I prayed that I would only go where God leads me and that I would allow Him to take the lead, which is not an easy thing for this Type A personality to do, sorry, I digress.
One of the biggest heartaches that Jesus dealt with during His time on earth was religious zealots. He watched people sternly walk under the LAW and press that same LAW onto others as the only way to be worthy of God. Even with Jesus, their Savior, staring in their faces, pointing them to grace, they persisted in following the law. Some physical churches and denominations today can slowly lean into that same wrong path. Of course, most of them don’t have a set of man-made rules that must be followed to get to heaven but many have THEIR interpretation of what the Bible says and they will hold to that NO MATTER WHAT causing division among Christians and confusion about the true message of God. I am sorry to say that I have seen churches stand on their human understanding of a scripture, taken out of context, and convince godly believers they were not loved by God. That was and is heart-breaking to me and it has got to be heart-breaking to God.
What we need to remember is that the “Church of Christ”, is actually the body of ALL believers in Jesus and He is the HEAD of that church. We, as the church, need to stare at our Savior and ask for His direction for each new step we take. We need to follow the LIFE of Jesus to see how we should live and treat others. Jesus LOVED on SINNERS, He didn’t shun them or turn His back on them, telling them to come back when they got it all together. Can you imagine what life would look like if we had a planet full of Christians that flat out LOVED other people, regardless of their culture, backgrounds, etc?
Now, I am not suggesting we should bury our heads in the sand against those that are not walking the way of Jesus. I am suggesting that we should LOVE them straight to the cross. I can’t think of ANYONE who has ever been berated into becoming a believer, and I don’t think I will ever see that happen. God is Love and we as followers are directed to love as God loves. This can only take place through the Power of the Holy Spirit in us and we need to pray that the Holy Spirit fills our hearts and the hearts of our churches.
I am blessed to attend a church that I fully believe is walking in the way of Christ. Their motto is, “Building followers of Jesus, that love God, love people and serve the world.” When I began attending I was shocked to hear them pray for OTHER churches in town and that meant churches of different denominations. Gasp! I was FLOORED. I knew this was a God thing and continued to dig into the church and membership. They told me, at the time, that they likened believing in Jesus to ice cream (stay with me here) . Following that theory they likened other Jesus believing churches to being different flavors of ice cream. That may sound strange but it made sense to me, as I KNOW the saving grace of Jesus is the bottom line and I think humans get lost in the details. By that I mean they get lost in the “detail debate” that we as Christians should or should not dance, or should or should not dunk to baptize, or should or should not do any number of things in the Bible. Instead of debating the minute details, we need to walk together as believers in Christ and stand arm in arm with hands outstretched and full of love for the world.
OK, sorry for the bit of the rant. I hope you are blessed by membership in a Christ following church and that God can open your eyes to follow His lead as the head of the church. Then I hope that you can rest in the fact that the devil is in the details and leave the rest of the arguments to be fully discovered in heaven.
Blessings and love,