GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) -- It's way too easy to find blogs, articles and books on "what's wrong with the church" -- ways she has fallen short of what God has called her to be and what changes she needs to make to attract and keep the next generation.
And, you know what? I've written several of them myself. As the church, we should always strive to be better in reaching our neighbors and the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
However, what about the things that are right with the church? Thankfully, the Word of God is effective at clearly pointing out what is beautiful about the body of Christ.
Let's step back, take a deep breath and be reminded about what's right with the church.
The church is your forever family.
We can all be guilty of mentally removing ourselves from the church universal or the church local. But you can't forget that if you have been bought by the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit lives in you, you are the church. You will always be a part of it, even when you try to run from it.
When God saved you, He saved you into a family. In fact, some people are closer to their spiritual family than they are their physical family. The church is God's answer to loneliness. As the church, you get to laugh together and cry together. You get to rejoice together and mourn together. The most beautiful word in it all is "together." Just like with your physical family, you may get annoyed, frustrated and angered by your spiritual family. However, we don't run and abandon them. We press in, love them and serve them.
As we read in Ephesians 2:19, "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God."
Besides the Holy Spirit, there is no greater force in the world.
When the church is unified and mobilized, nothing cannot prevail against her. When it comes to responding to disasters, sex slavery, orphan care and basically any other human need, the church is the greatest responder of them all. Do we always get it right? No. Are we late to the party sometimes? Yes. However, when the church, fueled by the Holy Spirit, rallies around a cause, the world takes notice.
I got to see this firsthand when one of the largest floods in U.S. history hit my home state of Texas after Hurricane Harvey. The unified church responded quickly and stayed long after the news cameras had left. In fact, they're still working today, recovering and rebuilding.
The church maximizes the effectiveness of your life.
Every born-again follower of Jesus has been called to do three major things through the Great Commandment and the Great Commission: Love God, love people and make disciples.
Have you ever noticed that the majority of our high calling as followers of Jesus has more to do with others than with us? We are called to love God (someone else), we are called to love people (someone else), and we are called to make disciples (someone else). And, to do this, we are given spiritual gifts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to strengthen others in the body of Christ.
And the more you serve, love and pour your life into others, the more joy, hope and peace you tend to have. The church isn't an organization created to fulfill your preferences; the church is a people created to know the Lord and to serve others. It truly maximizes the effectiveness and legacy of your life.
The church has an awesome husband.
We can't forget that the church is the bride of Christ, and what we have to say about her is taken seriously by her groom -- Jesus. Imagine if folks constantly had a lot say about what's wrong with your spouse, that he or she has lost touch with reality and is always doing things with the wrong motives and style. And if your spouse ever wants to see his or her children again, massive changes are needed to cater to those who have left or are threatening to leave. If these were the comments constantly made toward and about your spouse, it likely would be disheartening and could even cause some righteous anger.
Granted, there are many things wrong with us, there are changes we often need to make, and many times we miss the mark. However, there are many things right with us and good in us as the church. And the best thing about us is our husband, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He doesn't need us, but by His grace and love He chooses to use us to do amazing things for His glory.
Shane Pruitt is director of evangelism for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and author of the forthcoming book "9 Common Lies Christians Believe: And Why God's Truth Is Infinitely Better."