Due to inclement weather, the church that I normally attend cancelled services last Sunday. As I did the previous Sunday, when it cancelled services, I watched the live-stream of John MacArthur, Jr.’s Grace Community Church.
MacArthur is doing a series on the church. MacArthur said that church is not about us making contacts to enrich ourselves, us recovering from substance abuse, or even us feeling better about ourselves so that we can get through the week. On that last point, MacArthur likened church to a carousel: we get on, enjoy the music, and then get off at the same place where we got on!
For MacArthur, church is about exalting Jesus. A component of that is serious, respectful worship. MacArthur was calling the musical part of the service a taste of heaven, and, I must admit, it was powerful and majestic! For MacArthur, when we exalt Jesus, things in our life fall into their proper place.
MacArthur was also placing the church within a larger context. God the Father has given Christ the people of the church, according to John 6:37. We belong to Christ, and we glorify Christ by imaging Christ. At the eschaton, Christ will give the church to the Father, so that God may be all in all, a la I Corinthians 15:28. According to MacArthur, the world is decaying, but the church will last forever.
At the end of the sermon, MacArthur reluctantly said that there were three men who were unfaithful to their….And that’s when the live-stream ended! The service was about to start communion, but we were not shown that.
Oddly, the sermon made me feel better. I realize that MacArthur’s whole point was that church isn’t about me but is about Jesus, but it still made me feel better. Recent events made me evaluate the question of why I go to church. I cannot deny that one reason is to make contacts: I have difficulty making friends, and church is a community where I can meet people, maybe people who would give me a job reference! But that may not happen. Would I say that church is a waste? I should not say that. It is a place for me to exalt Jesus and to learn about Jesus’ grace and character.
Sounds similar to the theme of my book! And why I wrote it. Church and our faith should be about Jesus, and something is amiss when too many churches or Christian books (of a popular nature at least) actually create a focus on self.
“when we exalt Jesus, things in our life fall into their proper place.” Yes. That might be oversimplying a bit, but I think as a general point it is exactly right. We desperately need more of Jesus and less of self in our profoundly self-centered age.
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