Is one church as good as another?
While walking in the mall one day and discussing spiritual things one of my walking companions said, “If I could find the perfect church, I’d join it.” When I asked him how he would go about identifying “the perfect church” he didn’t have an answer. How would you go about finding the perfect church? Do you really suppose that one church is the same as another?
Jesus said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Upon the truth proclaimed by Peter in verse 16 Jesus said that He would build HIS church and even His death would not prevent it. Other passages tell us that He purchased it or paid for it with His own blood (Acts 20:28). How could some religious body (church) started by men possibly be as good as that which Jesus built? So if you were to go looking for “the perfect church” surely you would look for the one that belongs to the Christ.
If you were looking in the parking lot for my vehicle so you could leave something there for me you would want to know what kind of vehicle I was driving. So I would give you some identifying marks like make, model, color, and perhaps even license number. With these you could find my vehicle easily. There are also some identifying marks about the church Jesus promised to build. The church Jesus built has only one head, Himself (Ephesians 5:22-23). While many churches claim Jesus as their head they actually have an earthly leader (president, pope, prophet, etc.). The church mentioned in the Bible was sometimes referred to on a universal scale including all of those worldwide added by Jesus and sometimes referred to on a local basis including those in a certain area who had been saved. So Jesus is the head of the church (universal & local) but He also arranged for a certain kind of organization on a local level. This is shown in Philippians 1:1: “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” The local churches had both bishops (or elders) and deacons, not councils and conferences, etc. Is your church organized this way? The church we find in the New Testament did not wear the names of men, but instead was shown to be “of” God (I Corinthians 1:2) or “of” Christ” (Romans 16:16). The “of” shows ownership or possession. Other identifying marks would include things like it’s doctrine, it’s worship and it’s work. Perhaps we can consider those things later.
The perfect church will not be perfect because the people are perfect. It will not glorify man and seek to be all that men want it to be. Instead it will glorify God and seek to be what He wants. When you are looking for the perfect church first start with God’s design and His purpose. If it matters to God it should also matter to us.