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Is Church a Matter of Choice--Part 1

Posted by on in The Upward Call
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signs going everywhere 400 clr 15206

Over the next few weeks, I want to spend some time digging into the question that I get asked by a number of people, “Does it really matter where I go to church?” I remember when I was about 7 years old (40 years ago) walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store. There were about 10-15 varieties of cereal—Rice Krispies, Life, Post Toasties, Raisin Bran, and my favorite Fruity Pebbles. If you go to the grocery store today, not only is there a much larger selection of choices (over 200), but every type of cereal has 5-6 different manufacturers. When we live in a society that values freedom of choice as much as we do, is it the right approach to value this sort of freedom with where we worship as well?


One of the key components in this discussion needs to be, just because we have a choice doesn’t mean that every choice is equal. In Acts 2:47 the Bible says, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Since God was doing both the saving and the adding, He has the authority to determine if I will be added to His church.


How many churches did God plan on establishing? I don’t know about you, but on my way to work every morning, about a 15 minute drive, I may pass as many as 16 churches, most of which have different names on the signs. If I was looking for a church to worship with, I would be very confused and may even give up because I don’t have the patience or time to try all sixteen. Are they all the same? Are they all equal? Does God approve of all of them? How can we know the answers to any of these questions? Let’s begin with the foundation of this discussion.


How many churches did God intend to establish? Ephesians 4:4 says that there is “one body.” That one body is the body of Christ—the church. Likewise, in Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus established his church, not his churches; therefore, he built just one. In addition, Jesus prayed “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21). Jesus wanted the unity of his church body to testify about his being from the Father; yet, if there are so many different churches today, is that a strong testimony of unity or division? It certainly does not give the picture of unity that Jesus was praying for. Certainly, something is awry from the original goal. Next week, I will talk about how Jesus expected us to create unity among believers so that we can begin to narrow down the religious landscape. Just remember, Jesus and God both intended to establish only one church.

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