My name is Mandy Heard. I am thirty-eight years old. I have been a member of The Lord’s Church since I was fifteen. However, recently I began to second guess my baptism. Did I do it for me, or for My Lord? Was it because I thought I was earning my salvation by going through motions? To remove all doubt, I made my way down the aisle and was baptized a second time. This time, it wasn’t done out of fear of hell’s fire. It was done out of love and appreciation for My Jesus and the desire to be identified as His Church. Which leads me to the purpose of this article…who or what is the blood-bought Church, and what do I love about it?
First of all, the word “church” comes from a Greek word “ekklesia” which is defined as “an assembly” or “called ones.” So you see, the Church is not a building, but a body of believers.
Now, I mentioned to you already that I have been a member of the Church for a long time. I have grown up being taught from these Biblical principles. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled with identifying who the Church is.
You see, my friends are from many different denominational backgrounds. My friends and I pray together. We have attended Christian based conferences and events together. I do my best to encourage them, and they most definitely encourage me. I do consider my friends to be believers, and I know they love Jesus just as I do.
People often ask, “What’s the difference in the Church of Christ” and other denominations. Most people first recognize that we have no instruments. Others may notice our weekly participation in The Lord’s Supper. And while these are noticeable differences that others may recognize, I have noticed something else that has begun to decrease my confusion regarding who The Church is.
I have recognized in most denominational churches; there seems to be some disagreement or confusion about how they operate. They are usually based off opinions, ideas, or what they’ve learned from other organizations. There seem to be issues that arise based on change. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever, so why would we expect His Church to be different?
While these opinions and ideas are not always bad, they can make things quite interesting. They can draw others in; they can make things fun and exciting but eventually, comes conflict and confusion. Why? Because they are ideas of “good people,” but not from God The Father. Only God has the authority to direct and lead The Church. Any other assumed authorities will fail. It’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s coming.
Only what God authorizes will stand.
Matthew 16:18- “…upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
You see friends; God is not the author of confusion. The meaning of The Church wasn’t meant to be complicated.
1 Corinthians 14:33- “…for God is not a God of disorder…”
We have all that we need to fulfill our purpose within The Church. We are equipped. We don’t have to figure out the right way and the wrong way. We just have to know God’s way.
Hebrews 13:21- “…”may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.”
We have been given an example by the early church. Why fix what is not broken?
We don’t have to add to it or take away from it. Simply follow it.
My husband and I have been blessed with two amazingly wonderful, yet hormonal teenagers. Now if you’re a parent, you understand the need for boundaries and rules. What would happen if there were none? Anything goes. Stay out as long as you like. Eat what you want. Go ahead, if it feels good, do it. How long would that last? Eventually, our family would crumble. Wouldn’t it?
Guess what? So will the Church.
Often, the Church of Christ is accused of being legalistic. I’ll be real with ya. I’ve struggled with believing this myself at times. But a few weeks ago, my favorite preacher helped me understand this a bit better. Legalism comes about when we act on our own behalf. In other words, it benefits us in some way by following the rules…but, obedience is when we act out of love, honor and for the Lord’s sake. You see, our salvation has been bought and paid for with a price we can never repay. We don’t work for our salvation, but because of it.
So to sum things up, I guess I love the Church because My Jesus first loved me.
May God bless you and keep you!
Mandy Heard is married to Jamie Heard. They have 2 teenage children, Anslee and Cain. Mandy is a home health nurse and considers her job to be an opportunity for ministry. She enjoys sharing with others how Christ has changed her life. She is a member of Roanoke Church of Christ.