Summary: A study on the 7 model churches as described by Jesus in the book of Revelation. Learn why the church is so important, and your part in what He’s up to in these last days.

How to Be a Loving Church (Rev.2:1-7)

Series: Will the Real Church Please Stand Up

September 10, 2006

I decided to do a series on the church, because I don’t know if you noticed or not, but lately, the church in our society has been getting a pretty bad rap. More and more people are wondering, “Why should I be a part of a church anyway? Why put up with the hypocrisy, the gossip, the judgmental attitudes and the constant pressure to be good, when I can find God in nature?” That attitude might be understandable coming from a non-churched person, but now even Christians are getting on the bandwagon. Recently, one popular radio & TV preacher announced that “the church age is over… leave your churches and instead give your money to my ministry!” I read about another pastor who left his position on staff at a large mega-church and now is advocating…that we design our own church. A church that fits our own individual lifestyle. Is going to church too inconvenient? No problem! Watch your favorite speaker on TiVo, or download them on your iPod… do your worship at a ‘Chris Tomlin’ concert and then get together with some friends to discuss what you heard…when you have the time. And a lot of people are doing just that!

George Barna…a respected Christian pollster in 1998 published, a book called “The Second Coming of the Church”. In it He said, “At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I believe the Church in America has no more than five years—perhaps even less—to turn itself around and begin to affect the culture, rather than be affected by it. Because. … our central moral and spiritual trends are engulfed in a downward spiral, we have no more than a half-decade to turn things around.” In his newest book, “REVOLUTION”, He predicts ‘the decline of the local church”. Well, at the risk of sounding like a ‘doubter’… maybe he hasn’t noticed, but it’s 8 years later and the church is still here!

That’s because Jesus didn’t have that attitude about His church. In fact, He had the exact opposite attitude! In Mt.16:18, He said, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. –Mt.16:18 (NLT) Was Jesus ignorant of the problems and weaknesses His church, like Kenneth Lea said he was ignorant of what was going on at Enron?… or did He know that His church would have some imperfections, and face major challenges along the way? Sure He did! In fact, as we’re going to see, He knows exactly what the problems are in His church, and He’s actively involved in bringing about change. But to Jesus, the church isn’t a business venture, it’s not an experiment in social engineering No! According to the bible the church is “His eternal and beloved bride”! He’s ‘crazy in love’ with her and someday He’s going to marry her!

Again, does that mean She’s perfect? No! And neither are you! The point I’m trying to make is this…the reason the church isn’t perfect is because it’s made up of ornery people like you and me! It’s made up of people who are immature, flawed, who many times misunderstand or judge others, people who have a lot of their own ‘baggage’ from the past that they’re working on… but in spite of all that… God still wants to use us, IF… we’ll be committed to carrying on the ministry that Christ started. We can’t do it as good as He did, but together we can do it better than anyone else can!

I mean, God could have chosen the U.N., but He didn’t…

He could have chosen a College somewhere, maybe even the U.S. Government to do His work… but He didn’t. (and if familiar with those organizations, they’re not the answer either!) But instead… He chose us! He choose His church! And if you’re looking for a perfect group of people to be a part of before you join Him in His work…you’re going to get very frustrated!

Will another church be perfect? Probably not. How about your own family? Hmmmm… Nope! Christ’s church might be flawed, His ‘bride’ might be imperfect… but He picked her, and who are we to question His wisdom? The church is God’s answer to the problems facing every human being on the planet earth! In fact, it’s the only hope the world has! And what we may not realize is that when we nit-pick or criticize different individuals in the church, and as a result end-up writing off the WHOLE church as hypocritical or gossipy…we’re messing with His bride! Know what? My job isn’t to ‘judge’ Christ’s bride. That’s His job! As we’re going to see this morning (and in the weeks ahead) He’s doing a pretty good job at it! My job is to help make sure His bride is pure, by cleaning up my own act… and then find out what He’s doing in the world, and join with other Christian brothers and sisters… to do it!

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