Slander. Gossip. Sins of the tongue in 140 characters or less. Social media provides constant opportunities to sin against our neighbor. Instead of speaking in a way to encourage and build up, we confront others online.
As I read comments to posts, I sometimes find myself growing a disdain for other believers. I think, if this is the “Church” I don’t want it. After all, Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
As I viewed the anger online, anger began to brew in my heart. However, I had to repent because what is seen online isn’t always a representation of the beauty of Christ’s Bride. I paused and began to reflect about the blessing the Church has been in my life.
The body of believers served as witnesses to my conversion. I was dead in my sins and trespasses (Eph 2:1-3). I was lost spiritually, mentally and physically. My sins were weighing me down. I heard the gospel being preached, but one night after I was hit in the middle of the street by a drunk driver, my life changed. I sat in the bed and everything started to make sense. I reflected on a sermon I heard earlier. I realized I needed to turn from my sins and believe in Jesus. But, the Lord directed me to His Bride. I remember being baptized and publicly professing my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ before the Church. The Church helps us to see our new identity. Can you see the beauty of the Church? The Church provides a witness to one’s conversion but the Church also provides community.
I don’t know where I would be without the community within the Body of Christ. As my wife and I moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., the Lord has consistently provided us with brothers and sisters with whom we have had fellowship. These wonderful believers have come alongside us during our moves. I am reminded of “Answering them, He said, ‘Who are My mother and My brothers?’ Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers!’” (Mark 3:33-35). The Church provides us with community with whom we can love and grow. It is a tremendous grace of the Lord. In fact, many of these individuals we continue to stay in touch with even though we are not in the same city. Can you see the beauty the church?
Lastly, compassion has been a such a blessing to learn from the Church. The Church should be at the forefront of displaying compassion to others. I’ve seen pity and concern for the difficulties of others. Whether it has been the loss of a loved one, the difficulties of politics, the inability to have children, the hurt from sexual abuse, or the grappling of ethnic disunity and hatred, I’ve witnessed people pour their hearts out and come alongside others. “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Rom 12:15). The Church comes alongside people when they are hurting from the effects of sin on the world. Can you see the beauty the church?
There are some who may remark, “This is not occurring in my local assembly.” My encouragement would be to pray. Pray the Lord would help you to find a local assembly full of believers who display the love of Christ. Can you see the beauty of the Church? I can, but not quite yet in its fullness. Despite the lack of love, I realized it wasn’t the Church I despised. It was sin. The same sin affecting the members of the Body is the same sin inside of me. However, we can grow in love. We can grow in grace. Guard against social media accounts and websites, Satan uses to tempt you to sin. Be comforted from Paul that “God will count you worthy of your calling and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess 1:11-12).