“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
The Christian “blogoshpere” blew up last week when popular Christian author, Donald Miller, (Blue Like Jazz; 2003) wrote a blog explaining (1) why he doesn’t attend a local church, and (2) why he can worship God better outside of the local church. You can read his blog here.
Don’t get mad at him. Plenty have done that already.
Miller’s “mistake” was sharing his personal journey on the world-wide-web, allowing comments. Anyone can leave a comment – even idiots.
The reaction to his blog was so strong that Miller wrote a “follow up” blog a couple of days later, clarifying that his intent was never to give the impression that he is “anti-church,” but rather sharing his spiritual pilgrimage where church is concerned. You can read his “follow up” blog here.
After I read Miller’s “follow up” blog, my heart hurt for him. I left a comment. My first statement: “Hi Don. I have a message for you: I love you, my friend.”
This is not the place to write a thesis on the “doctrine of the church.” My purpose here is to simply remind all of those who, like Miller, have honest questions about the relationship of believers to the local church that Jesus can handle your questions. He loves you. So very much.
Biblically, “church” is not defined as “bricks, mortar & wood.” In truth, walls are optional. The “Church” of Scripture is the Body of Christ, comprising all believers. (“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Cor. 12:27) What’s vitally important, though, is that we’re connected to the Body (as made clear in the Hebrews passage cited at the top.)
There are a number of reasons Jesus used the metaphor of sheep when describing believers. One reason is that any shepherd will agree that when a sheep has strayed/becomes isolated from the flock they are easy prey for the enemy.
As I closed my comments to Miller, I included a quote from a book by Philip Yancey, entitled, “Church: Why Bother? A Personal Pilgrimage”. Introducing his first chapter, Yancey includes a quote by J.F. Powers from “Wheat That Springeth Green” that, at least to me, perfectly describes the local church: “This is a big old ship, Bill. She creaks, she rocks, she rolls, and at times she makes you want to throw up. But, she gets where she’s going. Always has, always will, until the end of time. With or without you.”
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick