Is it possible to place too-much value or emphasis on the Church? That’s a tough question. At first thought, it seems like the answer is no. Jesus established the Church through his death and with his blood. The Church is made up of all those who are added to Christ’s body. That feels like the correct answer. But my feelings are not always correct. This following statement is a quote that was posted on Facebook by a ‘Friend’ and it really caught my attention. Take a look.
“Where you live, what you do or how much you get paid are never as important as Staying faithful to the Church Jesus built and going to Heaven in the end . . . that’s all that really matters.”
This statement has some holes in it. Is it possible to stay faithful to the Church? Well, yes and no. What is the Church? That’s easy, it’s Christ’s body – which Ephesians 3:25 indicates is made up of Christians. In that case, is it possible to be faithful to the Church? Sure it is. We can be faithful to one another in many ways. Now notice the statement again. It makes it seem as if faithfulness to the Church provides salvation. That’s not correct. Faithfulness to God and His Son (our Savior) leads to salvation. I’ll get to heaven because Jesus died for me and added me to the Church when I committed myself to him and was immersed for the forgiveness of my sins.
Here’s the root problem or the problematic idea behind this statement. It is based on an institutional framework or understanding of the Church. Isn’t this what the Roman Catholic tradition is based on, faithfulness to the Church? Salvation through the Church? That’s the institutionalizing of the Church and it has a lot of similarities with denominationalism. This is what is so ironic about this statement – because I know the person who made this statement is completely opposed to denominationalism.
One last thing: I’m convinced that this attitude, or mindset, is one the reasons that people are being turned off to institutional or organized religion. They are being told to place their faith in and devote their allegiance to the local Church. But what happens when the Church lets them down . . . their faith is shattered and they are left questioning God.
Instead of teaching people to place their faith in the Church or trying to remain faithful to the Church as my friend suggested, wouldn’t it be more in line with the Scriptures to place our faith in Jesus Christ – who, by the way, has never let anyone down?