Our way to Christ is always a very personal journey. But once we are through the narrow gate we become part of a big family which Jesus calls his church.
Will I Have to Become Part of the Church?
The way into the Kingdom of God is a low and narrow way. It’s by repentance and faith–repentance for our sins and faith that Jesus has dealt with them at the cross. We come into the Kingdom as individuals. Our way to Christ is always a very personal journey–often full of twists and turns.
But once you are through the narrow gate you become part of a joyous family. It’s God’s own family --- full of folks with personal stories of their own. These are all your new brothers and sisters. You enter this community of believers because of your relationship with Jesus. It’s a community that he guards very carefully. He called it into being and he leads it himself. Jesus is so protective of this community called “The Church” that He said, “the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against it…..”–---- even though it will try.
Jesus saw himself as the good shepherd and all of his disciples as his sheep. He sees us as his family. While Jesus came to save each and every one of us as individual souls, you can’t get away from the fact that once we decide to follow him we become a part of something much bigger than ourselves. The church on earth was to be the foretaste of the Kingdom of God in Heaven. It was to be full of people who love Jesus with all their heart and soul, strength and mind.
People who would glorify God by the way that they live --- people with a bounce in their step and a face radiating love and hope.
I think Jesus wanted the people of this world to see his followers and think to themselves, “Despite being ordinary folks, there is something special about these people!”The church consists of people who are united with Jesus the same way that He is united with his Father. It doesn’t mean that everyone is the same but it does mean that there is a common purpose, mutual love and belonging.
Disciples of Jesus are unusual in that they seem to deliberately set themselves apart from what much of the world accepts. They are not governed by the priorities of this world but rather by God’s kingdom priorities. People in the church don’t just copy or imitate Christ’s behavior. Jesus gives everyone of his followers His own Spirit to dwell within them. So what happens is that Jesus simply continues living his life THROUGH us. Like a hand within a glove our life is the vessel that Jesus uses to continue his life here on earth.
In every generation the world should look at us as Christ’s followers and be immediately attracted to Jesus. They should smell a sweet fragrance and feel an unmistakeable touch – they may not be able to put their finger on it but they know something is different about us. The church are people who model Christ’s love and are ready to pour themselves out for others just the way Jesus did when he was here. In fact LOVE is the main characteristic that should mark the church.
The Church is a colony of Heaven. It is a small part of God’s kingly rule in the universe but it does recognize His rule and attempts to abide by it. The church is like an army with many regiments. It doesn’t matter what regiment you belong to – only that you obey Jesus your commanding officer. There will be plenty of cultural differences but always what unites us is greater than what divides us.
This great big family that Jesus calls the Church is the way that you will thrive and grow to be the best you can be. Do you have to be part of it? Well, here’s an illustration that answered that question for me.
An old saint was asked by a new Christian if he needed to be part of the church. Without a word he took a tool near the fireplace and lifted out a burning coal ----setting it on the hearth. In silence they both watched the coal dim until it finally looked like it was out cold. Then he took the tool and lifted the coal back into the fire. Within moments it was glowing and burning brightly.
Do you have to be part of a church? Hopefully that question will change to this: “How can I become part of it?”