Jesus loves the church- but what should the church be like?

Jesus loves the church, but what should the church be like? It has to be a church that looks like him.

A great number of people today say they love Jesus but hate the church. They’re disillusioned or hurt. Certainly, hurtful things happen in any community, but especially in communities that prize relationship, or prize truth. And sadly in many of our churches, people are quite doctrinaire: they will fall out over doctrine rather than gathering around Jesus. Of course, there is truth or better interpretations of scripture and worse interpretations, but what really matters is that we gather around Jesus. And as we do that, we start to look like him.

Jesus said the new commandment is to love one another. Jesus came to show us the Father, what God looks like. Love is his nature. We might think our response is to love God, but Jesus said our response is to love one another. If we love one another, preferring one another, then we display the characteristics of Jesus, who did not hold on to his position and power but emptied himself, became a servant and died a slave's death. Therefore God rose him up and exalted him above all authority.

So if we want to fulfil our purpose as church, we have to look like Jesus. That's why he makes such a big deal of knowing the Father and becoming one (John 14-17).

I was blessed as a teenager that my first experience of fellowship was in a group of school friends filled with the Spirit, who came from all kinds of different backgrounds.

What I kept discovering was that the things that really matter are: love, unity, humility and a determination to do and put into practice what God says. It seemed so simple, and yet so many churches seemed so complex and compromised by behaving just like any other organisation.

So as a student I was not surprised when I found a spiritual home among some people who were part of the House Church movement. We wanted to keep it simple and without structure, to be open to the Spirit and free of religion. It was exciting! And it went well … for a few years. But it became unhealthy, probably more unhealthy than most of the institutional churches I had been part of or visited! There was no structure to ensure no one person exerted undue influence and we became an isolated small group, declining in number.

We had reacted against some of the bad stuff we saw in institutional churches only to discover that attitudes in ourselves created the same problems! Just changing the style and pattern does not change hearts.

I will share how that story ends in the next blog post … Jesus loves the church … and heals us when we hurt each other, if we turn to Him!
- Chris Horton
Chris’ book ‘Belong’ - published in May 2024 - explores these themes and more.  
Available from All Nations or Amazon (ISBN 1739098668 or 978-1739098667)
Web link: Belong: Living in God's Family: Horton, Chris: 9781739098667: Books  
Posted in

No Comments