Jesus said it: "I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. The significance of his statement is that, this church must exist. Somewhere on our planet is a fellowship of believers following the teachings of Jesus Christ. But, where? I used to think I attended the church in question, but later study proved me wrong. While some within our little group exhibited the desired characteristics, most didn't. I won't admit in which group I found myself.
So the question still begs an answer. Where can one go to join the congregation which meets in the presence of the Eternal where the pulpit is filled with God's own modem to understanding where?
There's that really big one with enough mass to create its own field of gravity. There's the little store-front where secrets are impossible to keep. In between, infra-left and ultra-right, exists a spectrum as varied as the flowers of the field. With this accent on diversity, you can find a correct fit no matter the color vocal inflection, or sexual orientation of your person. But, just because it fits, doesn't mean it's of God; so, again, which is the right one?
You see, each has a different take on eternity. Some have strict guidelines of behavior; others none at all. Some reach out to form affiliations; others act as if they're the only ones in the room or should be. Yet, have any of these the singularly correct teaching?
I've attended Bible churches where scripture was plucked like shrimp from a buffet to b e filleted till little was left recognizable. I've attended ultra righteous assemblies who would deny me the moment my fortunes slipped. I've seen about everything imaginable, but I've never once sat in the perfect church one which could call itself the one true church over all others. Why is that?
Does the one repository of Truth and prophecy still await my discovery? Well, yes and no. It has been revealed, but neither you or I shall ever walk through its doors. See, it's not a matter of us walking through the door of His house but of Him knocking at ours. The one true church exists in all the congregations of humanities vast buffet, yet not one of these assemblies can claim Him as their native son.
What would be the defining characteristics? Jesus said, "By this shall men know you are my disciples: if you have love for one another." OK, but is love within a close knit group what He meant? Let's expand the scope: Jesus said "You shall love your neighbor as yourself; and a religionist asked Him, "Who is my neighbor? Jesus answered that question with the Parable of the Good Samaritan to existentialize the point.
What is really interesting is that these characteristics exist across the entire denominational spectrum. In fact, this behavior can be found among those who do not accept affiliation with Christianity. Concern for the welfare of others and a desire to live a moral life seems more prevalent among Jews, Buddhists, Confucionists and Atheists and even those who practice Wicca. These outcasts of self-righteousness profess the name of Jesus by their behavior much louder than most Christians do with their mouths.
So, it seems the Church of Jesus is a body of believers who follow his teaching irregardless of affiliation of the lack thereof. Now, it is good to realize where the teachings of love originate. Forgiveness begins with the self, and an understanding of having been forgiven is paramount to expressing such an issue to others. If we are the individual members of the Body of Christ, we will show Christ-like behavior. It's not a matter of earning it; but a natural result of believing it.
Jesus said to take up His cross and follow Him. Jesus said, "who-so-ever gives up their life for my sake shall gain it; who-so-ever seeks to preserve their life shall lose it. In order that our lives not be lived in vain, we must recognize our affiliation with each other and, like salt, season the society around us with love. Only in this way will life have a palatable meaning. Only in this way, will the true Way be preached to all the world as a witness.
Posted by permission.
Email the author: email@example.com
Visit the author's web site: http://heretic4jesus.com/
Return to the Protestant Apologetics and Theology page