Susan, a professing Christian, began her Facebook comments with a curse on all pastors and churches. One of Susan’s friends on Facebook asked her in response: “Do you hate churches and pastors?” Susan responded, “Yep.” Her friend then asked a very insightful question: “Then I guess that means you hate Paul and Peter and Jesus too.” Susan proclaims: “Oh no not them, just all the ones around today,” Then she adds, “Jesus and I are doing great.”
I remembered this Facebook conversation when I recently saw that The Barna Group reported that the number of people who are religious but have not attended church in the last six months is growing.
Frankly . . . and sadly, I know of several people I could name by name who claim to love Jesus but do not attend church, much less are not members of a specific local church. None of us have to look far to find examples.
We could offer many reasons why people do not attend church or have left the church. That’s not the purpose of this article. The purpose is to ask this question: can a person truly love Jesus and yet hate the church?
The answer is, “No.” Here’s why.
Jesus loves the church (Eph 5:25). In other words, Christ centers his love on his church. Therefore, if we are going to be a Christ centered people we need to be a church centered people, because that’s where Christ centers his love. To put it differently, a Christian is a church centered Christian. We cannot love Jesus and hate the church. This is because, as Mark Dever says, “Christian proclamation might make the gospel audible, but Christians living together in local congregations make the gospel visible. The church is the gospel made visible.” And the gospel must be made visible today!
So, since a person cannot say, “I love Jesus but hate the church,” how can we, who love Jesus, truly show love to Christ’s church? What does this look like? Stay tuned . . . that’s for another post.
Pastor Dan Burrus
For more on the relationships between Jesus, salvation, and the church, see the sermon here.