I love the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. I realize that we live in an age where fewer are making that statement. However, I love the church.
I am painfully aware that those who don’t love the church, who wish the church would disappear forever, feel that way in part due to an experience with some people who make up the church. To you, I offer my sincerest apologies. As those who are in the process of being made into the image of Christ, at times we miss the mark and fall tragically short, to God’s dishonor, to our disappointment, and to a watching world’s disdain. Yet God has not and does not give up on the church; neither do I. My hope is that in reading this, neither will you.
The church is God’s idea.
It is what Christ is building upon himself. It is that into which God calls every person who accepts his Son by faith.
I contend that the reason why many who’ve been added to the church don’t move to being the church that God intends, is that they never understood what God intends for the church to be. You can’t be or become what you don’t understand.
This is not new.
Those who made up the original members of the church didn’t even get it all the time. In fact, the Gospels, the book of Acts, and the New Testament Epistles are all God’s way of helping them and us understand what God intends for the church to be and to do. The three years that they were with Jesus, and the time after his ascension into heaven, were all about becoming God’s people in purpose and power.
As I write to you, I have been a part of the church for fifty of my fifty-seven years of life.
I have learned that we who make up the church are both being and becoming. We both are the church and are still in the process of becoming the church. John, an apostle of Jesus, speaks to this: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2 NKJV).
The disciples experienced continual discovery and development into God’s people in purpose and power.
Like the original members of the church, I am continuing to be led into becoming what God has in mind; a person of purpose and power. My hope is that I can better be who and what God has in mind. I invite you to do the same.
Bishop Claude R. Alexander Jr. is senior pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He serves on the board of Christianity Today, Mission America Coalition, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Movement.org. He is the chair of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s board of trustees and a past president of the Hampton University Ministers Conference. His latest book is entitled Becoming the Church (12/2022)