God blessed me last year with the opportunity to visit the Philippines. We were able to support and participate in various outreaches of two local churches. From their feeding and homeless ministries, to teaching children about the Word of God, to the privilege of sharing the Gospel with the community, the one thing that the trip impressed upon me was the beauty of the local church. The church is the most prized possession of Christ, outside of the glory of His Father. Through it we find community, we have a practical context in which we can practice our faith, and we find accountability and encouragement. It is a living, breathing organism, made up of believers from all stages, knitted together by the Gospel. The local church is the platform on which the Word of God is preached and the stage on which believers can express their gratitude to God for His salvation. My reasons for loving the church can literally go on for light years. However, I’ll only list a few.
I love the Church because it enhances the beauty of Christ through corporate worship.
There is something special about listening to a large congregation singing passionately to God through worship. In the Philippines, there was certainly not a shortage of singing going on. Both churches lacked much of what we westerners would consider to be a good worship experience. Yet in the Philippines, their singing possessed a beautiful simplicity and a pure reverence for God. Their hearts were free to sing out of gratitude. Their voices were filled with passion and zeal. They didn’t care who was listening for they were singing for an audience of one. Their singing carried the voices of men and women, whose lives were marked by great tragedy and loss, yet filled with the conviction of being intimately acquainted with God’s faithfulness. Hearing them singing and knowing some of their stories left me in awe. The sound was truly breathtaking. They were the embodiment of Paul’s command to “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-19.
I love the church because in it, we are surrounded by living witnesses of God’s love.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” Hebrews 12:1 Have you ever stopped to think about how the church is filled with these modern-day witnesses? Often, these gems are often overlooked, hidden, and underappreciated. Yet, they possess the power and ability to encourage us to continue to persevere when things get tough. By quietly watching their lives, we get the assurance to continue to die to self, and to live for Christ. In the Philippines I met a woman who had suffered great loss, yet her joy and trust in Christ was a living epistle for me. Every genuine believer in Christ has a testimony, and as we become more connected to each other, we are given a stunning Gospel mosaic through the lives and testimonies of others.
I love the Church because God loves the Church
A Christian cannot survive without belonging to the church. We must never overlook the people for which Christ gave His love and life. God has betrothed the church to be in union and covenant with Christ forever. As we grow deeper in our love for Christ, our love for the church should rise as well. That love must be manifested in sacrifice and service with the single desire to build her up as the pure and spotless bride that Christ deserves, and to ready her for the long-awaited consummation of His return. In the Philippines after a teaching, we often broke up into groups to discuss what we learned. It was an incredible sight witnessing the women edifying and encouraging each other. I was standing on holy ground. The church is another example of God’s love for us and His care over our hearts and souls.
As we grow in our love for Christ, I pray that we would grow in our love for our church. There is no greater joy than serving Her and seeing Her thrive under the water of the faithful Word preached by Pastor Charlie. May we be inspired to reach more women for Christ through our service to each other, and our zeal to reach the community through good works. The time has come to get our hands dirty and to join the fight.
Joy Dudley is a member of Lakeshore City Church and loves Jesus Christ with a passion to point other to the heart of the gospel