The church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.
The Church's One Foundation, verse 3
Today we've come to the end of this series, 31 Days of Loving the Church. I'm thankful for the chance to think through many things that have been on my heart about church, both the local congregation and the Church universal.
To quickly review, we talked about why we should go to church at all, and how to choose a church. We explored all kinds of topics that begin with "C": conflict, community and criticism. We discussed the importance of the Word and preaching, the sacraments, and how to follow the Spirit. We took three days to talk about how to leave a church in a way that honors God. I tried to weave some of my own story into the posts. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of some great churches over the years; I've been fed, challenged and grown. There have also been desert years, when I had to grit my teeth through church every. single. Sunday.
Here's what I hope you come away with: The Church belongs to Christ; she is not a man-made institution. Jesus loves his church. She is his bride, and he promises to present her spotless and without blemish when he comes back to make everything right. It may be hard to us to imagine the church without any faults, but that is what Jesus promises. How can we love Jesus and not love his bride? How can we honor the Lord and not also seek to honor and protect his beloved? When we love the church, we love what Jesus loves.
I've had the opportunity to read some great books (okay, skim some great books) and gain insight from wicked smart friends in the midst of all this. Here's a list:
Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck
The Church by Edmund Clowney
Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Traditional and Emerging by Jim Belcher and Richard J. Mouw
My husband was a great resource. Our friend, Jonathan Warren, also took time to suggest things I should read or listen to. I'm grateful.
Thanks for joining me on this journey! I hope it has been an encouragement to you; it has been for me. I've been so glad to hear from old friends, and get to know a few new ones!
And now for the news you've all been waiting for...the winner of the book A Praying Life is...Tricia! And, just because I really like you all and am so glad you read along, I decided to pick a second name. Winner number two is Alisa! Leave me your emails in the comments, ladies, so I can get your books to you. You're going to love it.
This is the 31st part in a series. Go here to read the series from the beginning. Go here to read over 700 other 31 Day series on all kinds of topics.