The Church Is The People
We teach it. We preach it. We say we believe it. We just seem to have a devil of a time understanding it – and a far worse one of fully accepting and living it! How many times have we preached, taught, heard, read, said, and/or were convinced we understood it? “The church is the people.” Yes, it is a very simple statement. And yet, it is one not all of us apparently understand the full implications of. You see, when a church member complains or finds fault about what “the church” is not doing (and they themselves are guilty of any similar if not the exact same negligence), they are actually complaining about, and condemning themselves! Why? Because “the church is the people,” and the complainers in the church, are “the church” they are into complaining about!
For example, when a church member complains that the church is not doing enough to bring new folks in, they need to be immediately asked, “So; when was the last time YOU brought someone new in… or invited someone to sit down and study the bible with YOU… seeing as how YOU are the church? When a church member contends that the church either has not done, or is not doing enough now to hold onto our youth, they need to be immediately asked, “So, why haven’t YOU done more, and why aren’t YOU doing more now to hold onto them… seeing as how YOU are the church?” When all some brethren want to do is sit back and criticize “the church” for supposedly being so divided they can’t work or get along together, they need to be immediately asked, “So, why are YOU so quick to complain, alienate, and justify your own not working with your brethren by staying home and not supporting their unity, harmony, and labor of love whenever there’s an opportunity to get and work together for growth, fellowship, and service events… because YOU are the church?”
But you see, that’s not usually what brethren mean when they start griping and complaining about “the church.” Their meaning is more often instead, to point the finger of blame at the elders, the preacher, the older, the younger, the richer, the poorer, and/or any or all of the other people who make up “the church” – but surely not themselves! And certainly never with the vim and vigor with which they routinely judge and condemn their brethren! Oh, on occasion you might hear some throw in the obligatory “And I’m guilty of it too.” But the sincerity of such statements can often be easily determined by simply observing the strength of the efforts they put into personal repentance in the days to come.
But for those Christians who want to constantly just gripe and complain about “the church” – which is what they themselves are – and point their fingers of blame at all the rest of their blood-bought brethren while giving themselves a self-justified free pass to continue right on along without ‘Being and making the changes they want to see,’ Jesus has some incredibly stern words of warning…
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1-5). Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you…” (Ro. 2:17-24. Essential additional instruction can be found in Lk. 6:35-38 & Phil. 1:27-2:16.)
The following adage is true. So the next time you hear a church member complaining about “the church” not having done this or that, remember: “Whenever someone points their finger of blame at someone else, they have three of their own fingers pointing back at themselves.” And they’d better not be guilty of what they’re judging “the church” for not doing… For the church, is THEM!