“The local church is the hope of the world” (Bill Hybels).
On more than one occasion I have heard Pastor Bill Hybels say the above quote. When the church is being the church there is nothing she cannot do. Jesus put it this way, “…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).
Contrary to what some may think after reading my last couple of posts, I am not depressed or discouraged. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! I am extremely optimistic and excited about the day in which I live. I think the times we are in are the most exciting times in history to be a Christian, if we will simply get out of our own way and be the church and let Jesus lead. I believe, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). As I have said previously, I will continue to vote and pay attention to politics, but I refuse to put my hope in any political party or political ideology. Change is not going to happen in Washington. Change is going to happen in the heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The local church is the hope of the world.
Church history teaches us that when the church is being the church – being the incarnation of Jesus in today’s world, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, bringing healing and wholeness to hurting and broken people – the church influences and changes her surrounding culture. When the church is the church, the church is salt and light. But when the church aligns herself to closely with political ideology, she loses her influence, power, authority, and relevance in the culture. In other words, she loses her saltiness.
Over the first 300 years of church history, the latter happened (the church was salt and light), but since the time of Constantine, the church has been stuck in the former, doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. It’s time the church woke up and reclaimed her position as the only true source of hope in the world. The local church is the hope of the world, not politics, not non-governmental organizations, not even para-church ministries. The local church, and only the local church, is the hope of the world.
You say, “I thought Jesus was the hope of the world.” Well, the church is the body of Christ. The church is to be in this day and time what Jesus was in His day and time. Let me put it this way: The hope of the world is found in the body of Christ, which is His church. Thus, the local church is the hope of the world! Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…” (John 14:12). Imagine that! If the church would simply be the church, we would do greater things than Jesus did! Politics are important, and I am glad there are Christians on all sides of the political aisle. Non-governmental organizations are important; most are based on Christian principles. Para-church ministries are important. But the most important, and most powerful, entity is the local church. Change is not going to happen until the church starts being the church again.
A few days ago I was having coffee with some friends at McDonalds. One friend has just been released from prison after serving 18 years for assault and robbery. In prison he found Jesus. Now he needs to find a job. Another friend is an alcoholic and a diabetic, but he loves the Lord. If you could watch this man worship on Sundays, it would bring tears to your eyes. The third friend has lived a rough life and has never seemed to get the breaks that I have received. A fourth person (a lady) joined us whom I did not know, but they did. All I know about her is that her mom was a “Holy Ghost” preacher, she long ago quit going to church, and she is a huge supporter of Pres. Obama. (On a side note, this lady and her son came to church this past Sunday.)
Now, here is the question: What difference is my vote going to have on their life? How is Washington going to make their lives any better?
I am sure indirectly my vote does impact them. But more directly, what impacts them is my church being the church, being the body of Christ, bringing them health and wholeness, giving them the only Hope that really can change things.
That’s what excites me. That’s what gets me up in the morning. Yes, I will vote and I will participate and educate myself about all the candidates. But if I ever have to choose between politics and drinking coffee with my friends, I will drink coffee every time. Why? Because the local church is the hope of the world.