Matthew 25:1-12; Matthew 7:21-23
I wonder, what comes to your mind as you hear the phrase, “the good church?” Do you think of happy, smiling people congregating around the fresh coffee and donuts? Or, perhaps the music department rocks, or the sermons are well presented. How about community involvement? Does your ‘good church’ have a pretty exterior with a steeple pointing the way to heaven, or softly textured walls around the sanctuary, accenting the stained glass windows? Or, would you say, “It’s more about the people!”? In America, just what is the ‘good church’? Perhaps a more important question is: “What is a ‘good church’ to God?”
My wife and I are in total transition at this time. Our lives are in complete semi-chaos, as we have moved to another state. We did this primarily because of a ‘good church’ in the city we moved to. We gave up a very comfortable life, a great job, good money, an affordable house and our local church (to be accurate, the local church gave us up!), all so we could be part of a ‘good church’ seven hundred miles away.
I’m not tooting my own horn here, for many in our new congregation have done, and are doing, exactly what we did, and for the same reason. What I am saying is this: all this is too costly to later find out our definition of ‘good church’ was all wrong, and too shallow to support lives sold out to God. In fact, I have to admit, there are fleeting times where I wonder if we aren’t delusional. We’re all too human sometimes.
In our new city, good churches, by most contemporary American definitions, are a dime a dozen, but believe me, we didn’t get upside down and incur great financial cost because we like the coffee, donuts and preaching here any better…we did it because the church we belong to now has one prevailing, underlying motive: to facilitate bringing us into God’s heart in such a way as to trigger personal and corporate encounter with the real Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit. That’s called “revival.” That’s it…it is not complicated, and while it may seem a subtle difference from the norm, it is huge in it’s eternal implications.
God only has one definition of a good church: His Bride, and there’s only one. And She is solely composed of a REMNANT of those who know there is more to God than we’ve ever guessed and are desperate for more of Him. But there can be a singular loneliness to that desperation, for you see, The Bride doesn’t fit in, or belong anywhere else within the mainstream religious institutions of our day. She is cut from different cloth, and can’t help but be different from the norms we see expressed on almost every corner of town.
If you want to “go along to get along”, almost any church will do, but you’d have to then wonder, “Is that good church, good enough?” A cursory reading of Matthew 25:1-12, cross referenced with Matthew 7:21-23, provides a chilling answer to that question. In effect, it really doesn’t matter how well you think you know (about) Jesus; it is absolutely critical that He has an ongoing, intimate relationship with you.
I just finished reading a *book documenting the great revivals of history, and believe me, reading that book was difficult. While reading it, there were extended periods of time where I felt covered over with the deadly germs of religion that I had unwittingly accumulated during my life. Oh, how to get rid of them!? I was very uncomfortable in my spirit – and I should have been. It is no accident of coincidence that my wife and I are currently engrossed in preparation for the last, great revival, and I can feel it draw closer with each day.
For the record, I would not feel that way if I was attending just a ‘good church’, and neither will you. ‘Good enough’ is only good enough, if it’s good enough to Jesus.
* [The Fire That Once Was, by Frank DiPietro; Penoaks Publishing Company;
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