Summary: Jesus built HIS church out of flesh and blood. He took sinful, selfish and self centered people and created a church that would last forever. But how could He make a world changing church out of such useless material? Preached at Unity Service
OPEN: About 9 yrs ago, the Russian Orthodox Church had a 200 year old Church Building that had fallen into disuse. They wanted refurbish and begin worship services there, but when they arrived at village where the church building was … it wasn’t there anymore. It had disappeared. It seems that some thieves had decided that – since the Greek Orthodox folks didn’t seem to have a use for the building - they did! And they carried away the church, brick by brick, until there wasn’t much left of a once elegant building. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7728407.stm)
Most churches are built of brick or wood or stone. And everybody knows that even the best of those building is not going to last forever. But this morning we’re talking about a different kind of church. We’re going to talk about a church that WILL last forever. We’re going to talk about the church that Jesus built.
Jesus said: “… on this rock I will build MY church... Matthew 16:18
Now, of course, Jesus wasn’t talking about a building made bricks, and stone, and wood. The church Jesus had in mind was going to be built out of flesh and blood - your flesh and blood. My flesh and blood. The church Jesus intended to build was to be made of you and me. WE are the church and wherever we are…WE are the church. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save us and make us part of HIS church.
Now many people don’t realize how important the church is to Jesus. The Bible talks about the Church as the “Bride of Christ” and in Ephesians we read: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). The Church is the Bride of Christ - and Jesus loves her! He died for her!!!
In fact, did you realize that you can’t be a good Christian and not be part of His church. I John 1:7 says “ if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…”
Now, look at that closely: If we walk in the light as He is in the light we WILL have fellowship with one another. Or – another way to say it – if we don’t have fellowship with one another we aren’t walking in the light as He is in the light. If you and I don’t have fellowship with other Christians… something’s wrong.
Now, there are people who say they can be just as good Christian without being with church. But thhat’s a LIE!
Granted, they CAN be a “Christian” without being with the church. But they CAN’T BE “just as good a Christian” without the church.
You see, the church is the bride of Christ. Ephesians 5:25 tells us “… Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” If a “believer” says they don’t want to be with the church - if they say they really don’t like the church - what they’re telling Jesus is:
“I don’t like your bride”
“I think she’s ugly”
“In fact, I think she’s been hit over the head with an ugly stick way too many times.”
“I love you Jesus… but I hate your bride.”
I hate the church you came and died for.
I despise that which you have sacrificed your life for.”
Now correct me if I’m wrong (but I’m not) but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to go over real well with Jesus.
But now, why would people not want to be around the church? Well, the fact of the matter is, the church is sometimes… UGLY. Have you ever heard of a church where there’s been divisiveness? Where there’s been backbiting and gossiping and folks saying nasty things about each other? Of course you have. We all have.
And it's nothing new. Paul had to warn the church at Galatia: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
He warned them TWICE!!! Why warn them a 2ND time??? Because there were church members who’d been doing stuff like that! Some of those folks at Galatia were pretty ugly believers.
I’ve read that in a medieval church manuscript were written these words: "The church is something like Noah's ark. If it weren't for the storm outside, you couldn't stand the smell inside.”
Now why would that happen? Why would the church "smell". Why would Christians "stink?" You’d think that because Jesus washed and justified and sanctified and saved them… that these people would all be just like little babies – cute and cuddly and promising.