While researching materials for a church planting course we are working on, I recently had the privilege of reading Val Yoder’s book, I Will Build My Church. All seventeen chapters of this short read have something worth chewing on. However, I personally found chapters 1, 7, and 12 particularly worthy of consideration.
Brother Val selected “The Bride of Christ” as the title for his first chapter, and speaks articulately within it on the inestimable value and beauty of the church. Sometimes we think of this reality only in a mystical or universal sense, but Val doesn’t let us off that easily. No, the church that Jesus Christ is building is only global because of its local expression within individual communities. In chapter 7, when speaking of the primacy of the local church Val says, “If your local Christian church was the only one on the planet, Jesus would marry her.”
Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ left heaven and He gave up everything, including His own life, to purchase the Bride. Val challenges us to contemplate the reality that the indication of how much I love the church will be demonstrated by how much I am willing to sacrifice for her too. What am I willing to suffer, to endure, so the church that I am a member of can become all that it was designed by God to be?
The above thought takes us to the next chapter I would like to comment on: “Digging for Gold.” In chapter 12 Val tells his readers that in a similar way to those digging for hidden treasure, so we ought to be willing to endure in our relationships with our brothers and sisters. At first glance the landscape of most natural settings appears beautiful—trees, shrubs, plants, grass, and maybe even some flowers cover the ground. However, after a time of “digging beneath the surface” we often find that there’s a lot of dirt that’s not seen so quickly above ground.
Though this could seem like a crude illustration, it does exemplify a principle that’s obviously a part of many of our closest relationships. Once the “honeymoon” stage is over, how committed are we to continuing to love one another with a pure heart fervently? Val emphasizes the fact that within every brother and sister we can discover a new creation of God’s Holy Spirit that’s most certainly worthy of pursuing. Yes, maybe not completely sanctified yet, but still amazingly beautiful and created for the glory (and in the image) of God! Will you and I miss this treasure just because it’s not immediately apparent on the surface?
I am certainly glad others haven’t given up quickly on me, and by God’s grace I plan to not give up on each of the brothers and sisters in my local fellowship too. Dear friends of the Bridegroom, unless the candlestick has been removed, your church is a real part of the surpassingly beautiful Bride of Christ! Let’s love Him truly by loving her fervently. Let’s willingly lay down our lives so she can be all that He’s created her to be. May God find us faithfully pursuing this high calling, in the name of Jesus! Amen.