“I love Jesus but can’t stand His fan club.”
I’ve heard it in several forms from various people, but the accusation is the same. Basically, it’s that the church of Jesus doesn’t look much like its Savior.
However, this is usually an excuse to pull away from the church (or “organized religion”, the “corporate church” or any other phrase that gets inserted).
But whether or not the Church is not as redeemed as she professes to be, we pull away from her to our own demise.
Happy New Year, everyone!
With our break during the Advent and Christmas season, it’s been a month since we were last in the book of Philippians. Written by the Apostle Paul from prison, Philippians was written to his dear friends in the church (churches?) in the Roman city of Philippi. He loved this church and the love was mutual.
As we enter the next section of this book of joy, we read in Philippians 4:1:
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for,
my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
Philippians 4:1, NIV
I’ve been told, “when we see a ‘therefore’ in Scripture, we need to see what it’s there for.” It’s true here, too. Paul’s use of “therefore” is connecting us to where he’s been. This is his way of saying, “for this reason…”.
But before we get to what the implications of this are, look at the terms of endearment Paul uses of these Christians: “my brothers and sisters” (emphasis added), “whom I love and long for”, and “dear friends”.
These were not strangers to Paul. These were dearly loved friends in Jesus. He could see their faces as he was scrawling these words by the flicker of candlelight. Because of his own suffering for the Lord, they shared a bond of the experience of facing persecution for the Name of Jesus.
They were his “joy and crown”. Perhaps Paul was envisioning the end of the Olympic games when the victors were given the wreaths of their victory and there was so much joy and excitement. His Roman brothers and sisters in this church would have understood the reference fairly well.
Paul had reminded the Philippian Christians their citizenship is in Heaven and we wait for our Savior to return from there (Philippians 3:20-21). For this reason, Paul tells them, “stand firm in the Lord in this way…” .
He encourages them to hold their ground, hold the line, dig in, and hold steady.
And they are to hold their ground “in this way”—this refers to what Paul’s been talking about (and will talk about again in this letter): unity.
We were not meant to stand alone. We’ll fail if we try. We were designed to stand together.
How are you doing with standing with the body of Christ, the church?
As a pastor, my role as a leader is in helping to reform the church. But I’m very careful about criticizing her because the church is not my bride. It’s the bride of Christ. The church is His idea and it’s His vehicle for our spiritual formation.
When you jump out of fellowship with the church, you’re putting yourself in danger because now you’re facing the world alone and without support.
An unaffiliated Christian doesn’t even have a Biblical category, except rebellious. Sorry…but that’s the truth.
Don’t give up on your faith in Jesus or in the method He has chosen to build our faith, the Church. We need you and you need us.
Stand with us, and together, we can show the world the love of Jesus by our love for each other.
Want more like this? Consider my book: 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom: A Month in the Proverbs.