When we started this series, I wondered how these posts would hit those of you walking around with deep wounds from sinful actions of those around you in local churches.
It’s inevitable that there are some of you who fit that description.
And as we mentioned from the beginning, we understand. It is impossible to invest deeply in the local church and avoid being wounded. Sometimes we are wounded in a good way, as our pride and sin are cut open and exposed… sometimes we are wounded when those around us sin against us and leave deep scars on our hearts.
There is so much I would love to say to you if we had coffee in person. I would love to hear your story. And I would love to give you a book to read.
Whether you are a new believer in Jesus Christ and just learning the “ropes” of investing in a local church, or a person who has grown up in churches and has battle wounds to show for it, or a person who is actively in ministry as a staff member, pastor’s wife, or other integral role… I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
You see, the church is a beautiful thing. It is full of broken people. It desperately needs the grace of God. And it is a gift from God to you.
In The Gift of Church, Jim Samra does a fantastic job of presenting the Biblical and practical reasons why we should treasure and value the church as a beautiful gift to us from God Himself. Samra never glosses over the very real issues that have plagued church life since the time of Paul… and oh, the stories that each of us could share to back up the fact that sin plagues our local churches still today.
But the church is a gift.
“We love the church because it is a gift from God. We participate in the church because God does. We do not give up on the church, because God refuses to.” – Jim Samra,
It is in the assembly of believers in our local church body where God’s presence is manifested in a unique and powerful way, where God speaks to us uniquely through the preaching and teaching of the Word, corporate worship, and prayer.
It is in the local church where we display the diversity of God’s people, assembled in unity – people of all walks of life, economic and educational backgrounds, age groups, and ethnicities gathered together as one.
It is in the local church where we find true communion – in a world with a coffee house on every corner, filled with people desperately seeking a community where they can know and be known… it is only within the church where we don’t just find community, but we are community.
It is the local church which functions as our spiritual mother, disciplining and reproving us, nurturing us, feeding us, raising us to maturity in Jesus Christ. God has uniquely designed the local church to function in this way, and no other group can truly take its place.
It is the local church where our service and giving and praise join together with those of like mind, creating a beautiful symphony of different giftings and abilities. We can do together what we could never accomplish alone.
It is the local church that functions as the visible Jesus in our world, displaying His grace to a lost world.
In Samra’s own words,
“The church is God’s church, and it is a result of his vision. We can and should take issue with the varying ways in which God’s vision for the church has been manipulated, perverted, and corrupted. We can and should acknowledge that the church has failed us and we have failed the church. But in the end, God’s vision for the church remains. The church is a creative act of God. God the Father designed and decreed the first creation, and he has designed and decreed the creation of the church…
Despite the apparent flaws that sin introduced into the world we live in, it is still a place of great beauty. The same is true of the church. Despite the presence of sin and the ongoing, persistent failures of the church, it remains a community of great beauty.” (137)
I highly, highly recommend this book. Read it yourself. Share it with your pastor as a gift for pastor appreciation month. Discuss it in your small group.
We also have some great news – Pastor Samra has graciously contributed a copy of the book to be given away to one of our treasured Scripture Dig readers!
To enter to win this giveaway (for yourself, your pastor, or someone else!), just leave us a comment and let us know what you treasure most about your local church. How has it impacted and enriched your walk with Christ?
*This giveaway will close at 10pm EST on Friday, October 22nd 2010. Winner will be chosen from the comments below using random.org.