The Church Belongs to Jesus
There hasn’t been a more encouraging statement for me recently than this one: “Jesus is the head of the church” (Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 1:18). Think about this for a second. Jesus is the owner, leader, teacher, and shepherd of the church. He owns it. He leads, guides, and directs it. He teaches the church his truth because he is truth. He is The Good Shepherd who knows his sheep, and his sheep know him.
What an encouragement this has been for me as a pastor and church planter. Some days I am full of energy, and other days I have poured out so much. As someone who takes stewardship very seriously, I place high expectations on myself and our church. When things don’t look the way I’d hoped, I become sad, bitter, and discouraged. I do well to remember this isn’t my church—it is Christ’s!
Does everything look the way I want? Are people acting the way I expect? Is the process going according to my plan? These are questions that leaders naturally ask themselves. But we need to remember the church belongs to Jesus.
Don’t talk smack on the church.
This topic has not only been encouraging, but it’s been convicting. You cannot grow in friendship with someone while talking smack on their spouse. And the church is the bride of Christ. How well do you think it would be received if you said to me, “Payte, I think you’re just wonderful. You’re a great guy. I’m glad we’re friends! But I can’t stand your wife. What’s the deal with her?”
You’re probably going to get punched… with some words.
I think Jesus views the church in this same light. He loves the church. He knows the needs in the church better than we do. He has great plans for the church that beat my plans. Our finite view isn’t going to persuade the King of Glory to stoop down to our level. His views are much higher than ours.
We should recognize how valuable the church is to God and never talk smack on the church if we want to be on God’s good side.
He loves the people more than we do.
Whether it’s the people inside the church, or the people in the city we are reaching, God loves them more than we do. This is absolutely refreshing to know as God’s undershepherd. The Good Shepherd cares about everyone more than any undershepherd does!
The kind of love that God has for the people around us is unimaginable. It’s much higher and stronger. This speaks to me because I truly love the people I’m around. And there are things I want to change. But God loves the people way more. So I will trust his timing and his will to prosper. If things need to change that badly, God will make it happen.
We don’t need to convince God to care about the people in our church or city. He cares deeply enough to die for them.
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. (John 10:11-18)
How dare I try to convince God to care for them! But our prayers sometimes come off as this. Since Christ is the head of the church, he is way ahead of us in the race. We just need to catch up.
He holds us all together.
God holds the church together, and God is the one who grows the church. I work my butt off every single week. Meeting with people, sending text, writing emails, making phone calls, reading, praying, etc. consumes my weeks. And I love doing all these things. But I cannot hold the church together—God does.
He is the head of the church. He’s the owner. He is the true shepherd. And thanks be to God! If the church were in my hands, it would fall apart.
Whatever I may bring to the table pales in comparison to what God brings. I may be able to speak to someone’s ears once a week, but God speaks to the heart all the time. He is the one who meets our church even in the dark of night, in the sticky mess, in the secret place. Getting to be a part of his church, and lead his church as an undershepherd, is a great honor. But I’m more thankful that God is the head of his church, not me.
This truth about God being the head of the church has encouraged me greatly the past couple weeks. It will continue to encourage me! Pastors aren’t the only ones who should be encouraged here! It’s true that we love our church family, but we don’t always like them. Let this truth take some weight off your shoulders.
We are merely part of Christ’s body, serving the head and the other members. Don’t talk smack on the church because Christ deeply loves the church and holds us all together.
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