God’s Good Design of the Local Church

God’s Good Design of the Local Church

May God’s people display the beauty of the church. Keep gathering each week and worship with those who are otherwise different. Use your gifts, talents, presence, and love to equip the saints and make disciples. I can tell people the Mona Lisa is a work of art, but perhaps it’s far more effective to show them. May the beauty of the church continue to shine until Christ returns and calls her home! 

For years I sat a few pews back from Mrs. Maggie every Sunday morning. I would walk into the auditorium, and she’d already be in the front row with a smile on her face and her portable breathing machine next to her. I’d lean over her walker to hug her while she said in her soft, raspy voice, “Hey Pastor.” She would tell me she loved me and that she prayed for me often, and I have no doubt she did.

Mrs. Maggie faced several challenges with her health. But, no matter how much her physical health waned over the years, her spiritual life grew ever more vibrant. When the service began, Mrs. Maggie tuned in, ready to worship. I could see her eyes looking directly toward me when giving the announcements, I heard her heartfelt “amen” as I prayed. When the worship song moved her, even though she was in the front row of an otherwise sitting Baptist congregation, she stood and raised her hands while singing to nobody but the Lord.

Her faith had been purified through many fiery trials. I remember visiting her after finding out her daughter died suddenly and unexpectedly. I approached her with a broken heart and a nervous mind. What could I possibly say to this woman facing her worst-case scenario? How could I minister to this mother whose heart has been ripped out by the loss of a child? Adult daughters typically bury their elderly mothers, not the other way around. Only six years prior, Mrs. Maggie had lost her husband, and now grief piled on more grief. As I hugged her, I heard her soft voice, laced with grief and hope, whisper, “God is good.”

A few years later, Mrs. Maggie finished her race and was able to worship the Lord face-to-face with the same zeal and passion, reunited with her husband and daughter. I miss seeing her each week. Ours was an unlikely friendship that defied generational and racial barriers. Worldly speaking, there would be little reason for our paths to cross and our relationship to grow. But, our paths did cross in the beautiful design of God who binds brothers and sisters into a body of believers that we call the church.

God’s Plan and Design for His People

Knowing Mrs. Maggie is just one of many examples that highlight the beauty of the church. Thus, it grieves my heart when I hear people say things like: “I love Jesus, but I don’t go to church. I’m just not into man-made, organized religion.”

We too often think of the church as an organizational structure set up merely by man. Sometimes this is even done for more sinister reasons, in ways that benefit the pursuit of power and money. While it’s undoubtedly true that snakes have crept in and used the church for such ill purposes, it is also true these slimy serpents did not design the church.

God did.

The church is his plan. It’s a visual display of his glory, a gathering of people created in his image and born again into fellowship with him.

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