As a pastor, numerous people have told me that if they were to walk into our church building, the roof would cave in. I jokingly reply, “It has not caved in on me yet.”
Such sentiment conveys the idea that the church is a “holier-than-thou” organization, filled with people that have their life together and have in some way attained moral superiority. Most people know this is not the case. They have been wounded in the past by people who called themselves Christians, people who cast judgmental glances while practicing the very sin they detest. This sad portrayal, which is far to prevalent, beckons the question, “What really is the church about?”
I am not providing a formal definition here, but, with a few illustrations, let me help you better understand what the church is about, at least when it is working properly.
The church is a place where God’s light dazzles the world. “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said (Matthew 5:14). Every local church ought to dazzle the neighborhoods around them with Christ’s light.
The church is a place of nurture (Ephesians 4:11-13). The influence of a church starts at its center. We become God’s dazzling light by nurturing each other well, from the baby’s first cry to the dying brother or sister’s last breath. First and foremost, we nurture each other through our diligent attention to, study of, and living out of God’s Word (the Bible).
The church is a hospital for sinners (Mark 2:17). None of us have arrived. We all have wrinkles that need ironing out and spots that need cleansing. There should be a sense of welcome home to every guest that enters our sanctuaries, not because we want their business – not that at all! – but because we all come to Christ as spiritual beggars in need of healing, refreshing, and restoration.
The church is a place where spiritual medics are dispatched (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 10:25-37). From the church goes out ambassadors to proclaim the gospel for the salvation of humanity. The church goes on a recon mission to find the hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, captive, and lost. We go out to heal and bring them home.
Churches do not always succeed in this high calling. The church ought to say sorry when it fails. Nevertheless, this is the ideal of the church that can be reached, when the church surrenders to Christ’s power. So, to you, weary traveler, enter, the roof will not cave in on you.