Can You Really Love Jesus Yet Hate the Church?

I’ve noticed some conversation in the media lately that goes something like this, “People believe in Jesus but not the church.”

Newsweek Magazine picked up on this with an article entitled, “Forget the Church, Follow Jesus.” There are some good comments in this article, but the article in itself is not really the issue. It’s the overall ‘vibe’ of the public conversation about the local church. There are many assessments and assumptions made that are just not accurate nor are they fair.

When people start talking trash about the church – I get protective – not defensive, protective. I want to protect the reputation of church as I would want to protect the perception about a friend who is being criticized about their attitudes, actions, or motivations. 

I want to protect how she’s treated. People can ‘think’ whatever they want, but to speak those opinions or judgments out loud is wrong because they can be damaging and add to an opinion that is inaccurate.  

Pastors for years have heard comments from people like, “I love Jesus; I just don’t like the church.”

Some thoughts to consider…

1. We have to recognize that Jesus loves the church.

When giving instructions about marriage in Ephesians 5, Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus loves the church, laid down His life for her, cleansed her, cares for her, and becomes one with her. Then Paul says husbands should do the same for their wives.

How do we find ourselves so free to criticize or minimize the significance of the church?

I believe if you love Jesus, you must love whom He loves. He loves the lost, He loves the hurting, He loves those who follow Him, and He loves the church.

2.  The “local church” is the hope of the world.

It carries no weight to say ‘I love the global church’ but have no commitment or dedication to a local church. It’s like someone saying they play professional basketball, but they are just not part of any one particular team. It makes no sense.

God plans to use the church to reveal His awesome plan to humanity.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 3:7-12)

Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  Matthew 16:18 NIV

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Philip Wagner
Philip Wagner is Lead Pastor of Oasis Church in Los Angeles and founder of Generositywater.org. Oasis is an innovative and racially diverse church, largely comprised of people in their 20’s & 30’s. Oasis is known for its local and global outreach to the impoverished; especially orphans and widows, and funding clean water projects. Philip and his wife, Holly, started Oasis in 1984, in Beverly Hills with10 people. Today they’ve grown to 3000+ members.