The opinions about church are as varied as the number of stars in the heavens.
On one end of the spectrum are those that believe it would be a sin not to be there. On the other end of the spectrum are people who think everyone that goes to church is a hypocrite and wouldn’t go inside a place of worship if their life depended on it (Not included in the spectrum is anyone that does not believe in God because, well, that’s obvious).
Just asking the question, “What does Jesus think of church?” will bring some scoffers. After all the church did not exist until after Jesus died, rose again, and ascended to heaven. After all, how can He have an opinion on something that wasn’t even here yet when He was walking the earth?
What does the Bible say?
First of all, Jesus is God John 1:1-5, 14). He knows the beginning from the end. He knew of the church just as He knows the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30).
To understand what the church means to Jesus no one needs to look much further than Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Christ gave Himself for the church; He died for the church.
As Christians we understand Jesus died for us, but He also died for the church. The value Jesus places on the church is unmeasurable because the Holy Son of God died for it.
If Jesus is our example, if we live our lives trying to emulate Him, how important is the church to us? Can we claim it has the same worth to us if we don’t go because the weather is good and we haven’t been to the beach or played golf in awhile?
Consider the story of Saul.
Saul had a hand in Stephen’s death. After Stephen’s martyrdom the Bible tells us of Saul, “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3). Havock is a situation in which there is much destruction or confusion. Saul went through the church like a lion eating his prey; tearing the church to shreds. If the people didn’t flee, he killed or imprisoned them.
Then a miracle happened. Saul had left Jerusalem and was on his way to Damascus with orders to arrest and bring back to Israel anyone claiming to be a Christian. On the way, Jesus appeared. The beginning of Acts chapter nine tells the story – “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
Jesus and Saul had never met. In fact, Jesus had ascended back up to heaven years before this. The chapter before this talked of how Saul was paving a path of destruction through the church, but Jesus asked, “Why persecutest thou me?”
Jesus took the attack on the church personal. Saul wasn’t attacking an organization; he was attacking Christ Jesus.
The importance, value, and respect Saul gave the church indicated the importance, value, and respect he placed on Jesus Christ. We are no different than Saul, the importance, value, and respect we put on the church is the same we will put on Jesus.
Some readers may think, “But all churches are not good. Many teach false doctrines; many are filled with hypocrites, many are not separated from the world and so on.” Yes, undoubtedly these are problems within the church, but what does Jesus think?
Chapters two and three of the book of Revelation consists of seven letters to seven churches. All the letters are from Jesus Christ. Four of the churches have some good and bad in them, two of the churches God has nothing bad to say about them, and one church, unfortunately, Jesus had nothing good to say about them. Jesus tells all seven to listen to what the Spirit has to say; to those that had problems He gives them the steps to fix their wrongs; to the church with no good points, He knocks on their door desiring fellowship (Revelation 3:20).
Do we use false teaching, hypocrisy and other things as reasons to stay away from church? Christ used those things as a reason to knock on the door.
How is your heart toward the church? Loving? Indifferent? Hateful? Remember how Jesus reacted toward Saul. How you treat the church is how you treat Him.