"You don't have to go to church to be a Christian"
"I like Jesus but I don't like church - it's too messed up; too much religion"
And on it goes - you know the argument.
Perhaps we sometimes feel like that too? Well if we do, we need to regain perspective.
The church, to Jesus, is too important to be something that we can take or leave depending on whether we like it or not. To Jesus, the church isn't just a hobby, or a side project. If we're Christians, we're in the church. If we're in the church, we are the bride of Christ. Not just his hobby: his beloved.
If we say we're interested in Jesus, but not interested in his beloved, then something has gone wrong. Let's see what Paul said about the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 11v2-3:
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.
Paul cared about Christ, so he cared jealously for his beloved, his bride, the church.
Jesus chose the church, knowing there'd be divisions. Jesus chose the church, knowing there'd be people who'd use it for their own ends. Jesus chose the church, knowing that there'd be wolves in sheep's clothing. Jesus chose the church, knowing that there'd be needy, time-consuming, unappreciative, draining people.
Jesus chose the church warts and all, died for it, and calls it his beloved. Who are we to reject it?
Jesus said to Paul - the great persecutor of the early church - on the road to Damascus:
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
How we treat the church affects how we treat Jesus. If we love him, we love the church. If we're not interested in the church, chances are we're not really interested in Jesus.
Thanks to Sam Allberry at Formation for getting these thoughts flowing.