How do you explain the fact that, with only one Bible, there seems to be a different church on every corner? Ever since I can remember I’ve heard about how you can identify the “true church,” and if that is the “true” one, apparently all the others are not “true.” That whole discussion is confusing to the uninitiated.
It’s a source of comfort – and sometimes arrogance – to those who believe they have it all figured out.
I want to rain on that parade by changing the matrix. I want to add two more criteria to the list. You may or may not be comfortable with what I’m suggesting; even so I think you’ll agree.
Once it gets its theology straight, the “true” church is one where (1) everyone is safe and (2) no one is comfortable.
- Everyone is safe.
The safest crowd to hang out with is the one that is awash in grace. We’ve discussed before in this space that the majority of those who are unchurched or de-churched have the sense that the minute they drive onto the church parking lot they are being judged. Especially if it is a congregation with high standards. They have the sense that the bar they must pass reads, “When you get your conduct in line with ours, you can come in, too. Till then you can only watch from the sidelines.”
But when the good news breaks, their theme song becomes, “Just as I am, without one plea but that His blood was shed for me.” Jesus worked so hard when He was here to demonstrate that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. So here’s a group of people, broken but rescued, who are looking for other sinners just like themselves. That’s why the welcome they extend is genuine and eager.
- No one is comfortable.
Everyone I know has family members who do not share their faith in Jesus. Kin who, unless there is a supernatural event on their journey, will likely not share eternity with Jesus. A spouse, kids, cousins, uncles, grands, greatgrands. Every time I ask that question in church everyone in the building raises their hand. So my question is, how frequently have you spent time prostrate before the Lord, pleading for their salvation? On your face. How many nights have you pounded the mattress in deep dismay? Fasted?
How troubled are you when you pass a drunk on the sidewalk? A lady of the night? A teen with body piercings everywhere you can see and probably some you can’t. Or a sophisticated rebel who seemingly has everything they need, except Jesus.
So, is where you worship a “true” church?
By Don Jacobsen