God, do I have to go to church?
Why do you ask?
Well, I don’t know. I guess because I don’t really want to go. I feel like I can be just as close, or even closer to you at home.
Ok. Tell me more.
When I go there I feel awkward.
My child, first I want you to understand that the way I dreamed of the church isn’t what you have experienced. I had much different plans that I started before you were even conceived.
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
I created the church to be a family, my family. I created it be a body, my son’s body. I created it to be a temple, my holy temple.
The church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.
But isn’t church like going to the temple in the Old Testament?
My love, there was a time I dwelt in the tabernacle. There was time I dwelt in the temple. But my heart’s desire was always to dwell in you.
Through him you are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
Ok, but there are a lot of people at that church…
You mean people in my family?
Well, I guess. Whatever. There’s just a lot of people in your “family” who think they are holy holy holy.
What do you mean?
Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
You know what I mean. They think they are better than me.
Did they say that?
No, but I can tell. They act all fake.
Oh, I see. You decided that you don’t want to be part of my family because some of my children seem fake to you.
Well, I just don’t fit in?
Why not? I created you for an exact fit.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.
Well, those people just go sing songs then do whatever they want to do the rest of the time.
You are right. Some of them are struggling so deeply. They are hurting. Some of them are trying but they are resisting mercy. Oh, but those who have bathed in my grace understand that I want them to walk worthy of that grace.
I beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.
So you know that there are some fakes?
So what am I supposed to do?
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
Ah, you want me to be nice to them?
You could say that.
Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
OK. Let me see if I get what you’re saying. You made your church to be like a family. You made me to be part of it. And there are fakes.
And there are sincere ones too.
I’ll give you that.
Those sincere ones are who you need. They are the ones that I sent to you. I picked them to help you.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
Help me? Help me do what?
To help you win.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Yes, the stakes are very high. Your salvation is at stake. And so are your brothers and sisters. They need you. They need you to fill the space that I created just for you. They need you to fight this battle with them.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
All scripture taken from Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. Read the entire letter here.