As you come over the crest of the hill, you're greeted by a charmingly creaky-looking little country church with an oversized steeple pointing to the sky. Whether you pass it every day or this is your first time, you're comforted. That still standing church represents so much. The holy things. Worship. The freedom to do so. The gospel. The body of Christ.
They dot the American landscape, these 330,000 or so church buildings. Some big, some small. Some old, some new. Droopy white clapboard churches every few miles in the country. Glistening cathedrals with their stained glass windows sandwiched between skyscrapers every few blocks in the city.
What really warms our hearts, though, is knowing that inside these structures, the church gathers to worship Almighty God. Whether it's eight people, 80 people, 800 people or 8000 people, we know they all have the same needs as do we, the same aspirations, the same temptations. They, like us, are sheep, prone to wander. And we take comfort in knowing that we are secretly united with them in one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one church.
Yes, Jesus Christ and his gospel is the only true hope of the world. However, and for reasons we can only imagine, his body, the church, of which Christ is head, though deeply flawed and far from perfect, is, and always has been, God's primary and most effective means of bringing Christ and his gospel to the world.
It's Sunday. These places, so varied, that crisscross our land are sputtering to life. The church is gathering, united in faith, hope, and love--portals through which the love of God in Christ Jesus will flow. Even with all our flaws, God has decided to make his appeal through us. And it is beautiful.
Until every church disciples every man...