“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
both their Lord and ours.” 1 Corinthians 1:2
I was so close to getting up and causing a scene. But then I thought, “Well…would it make any difference?” I envisioned being recorded by several people’s cellphones, the video clip sent in to the local news with the tagline reading, “Unknown man creates mayhem at church!”. After I restrained myself for the third time, I decided to go for a walk. Unfortunately, there were speakers in the hallways and even the restrooms! There was no escape from what I was hearing.
The church I visited was huge – it had everything you could ask for: a choir, a plethora of musicians to enhance the worship experience, vacation Bible school, tons of activities for people of all ages – but one crucial thing was missing: the name of Jesus. The guest preacher approached the pulpit, pacing back and forth, non-verbally bragging about his lack of using notes. He flashed a verse up on all three screens from Hebrews 10. He quickly read through it and that was the last we saw or heard of it. From there, he told stories about eating some good home cooking in Louisiana, the joys of doing yard work, zooming all over the place except for the Scripture he had read. 37 minutes later, I was stunned. Not ONCE did he say: gospel, atonement, redemption, faith, justification, or SALVATION found in JESUS alone. This, friends, is not preaching.
I don’t know what to call his speech. Granted, he was somewhat entertaining, like-able, sharp in his appearance – but he didn’t offer me or anyone else in that congregation of 700+ people any assurances of salvation found in Jesus Christ alone. Here’s what I’m NOT saying: this church I attended didn’t love Jesus, wasn’t a Godly church, or should be shut down immediately – who am I to question the work of God (Mark 9:38-41)? Maybe when the regular preacher was there it was more gospel-centered? From the outside looking in, it mirrored “while the cat’s away, the mice will play.” When we take Jesus OUT of the church, we are NO LONGER a church. The building has simply become a meeting place, an entertainment session, a gathering of people with a few shared interests. If we do not acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior, especially in what we claim to be His church, then what are we doing there?
The church is not only a physical building, but consists of believers in Christ coming together to worship His name, His infallible Word, and rejoice in the bond that communion with Christ brings together as believers. I tell my congregation often to be in awe of the friendships we have together; all because of grace alone, faith alone, and Christ alone we are eternally saved. Otherwise, I would never cross paths with 90% or more of church participants that I see on a weekly basis! What brings us together is the love of God through Jesus Christ. Notice how Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1, “to the church of God that is in Corinth.” The church “of God.” Not “my church” or “our church” or “their church” – BUT God’s church, because with God fully and biblically in it, it’s a true church.
I challenge us this next month to NEVER BE ASHAMED of the Gospel only found in Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16, Titus 3:4-7)! When we honor Christ, as Paul said, we are called to be “saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” An often forgotten, yet theologically rich hymn, At the Name of Jesus, by Caroline Noel about Jesus puts it this way: “Humbled for a season to receive a name, from the lips of sinners unto whom He came, faithfully He bore it spotless to the last, brought it back victorious, when from death He passed.”
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.