Stephen R. Bradd
The Scriptures describe the church in a variety of ways: the body of Christ, the Way, the kingdom of God, the bride of Christ, etc. However, let us give some attention at this time to some things the church is not.
The church is not made up of people who believe they are better than others. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil. 2:3). Rather, God’s church is made up of those who realize they should be better than they are and must continually strive to do better always. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12).
The church is not made up of perfect people, but people who realize they are following a perfect Lord and a perfect law and therefore must do the very best they can. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” (I Pet. 2:21,22).
The church is not trying to withdraw from everyone, but rather draw everyone into its fellowship and love who are willing to walk in the light where God the Father and Christ the Son are found. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:6,7).
The church is not made up of people who never make mistakes, but those who often acknowledge their mistakes and then forsake them. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8,9). Never must we seek to justify our wickedness or continually make the same mistakes over and over again.
The church is not trying to take the joy out of life, but rather is trying to put real joy into every life it touches. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). Great joy is found in embracing our purpose of life (namely, fearing God and keeping His commandments; Eccl. 12:13).
The church is not trying to make you feel ugly by rebuking sin, but rather it is trying to instill the beauty of holiness in your life. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (II Cor. 7:1).
The church is not trying to separate you from your money, but rather it is trying to keep your money from separating you from God. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim. 6:9,10).
The church is not trying to become the master of your life, but trying to get you to master yourself. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).
The church is not trying to rob your life of priorities, but rather to get you to put the priorities in your life. ”But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).