Rejoice in God’s Work in Other Churches - Radical

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Rejoice in God’s Work in Other Churches

You have a standing invitation to witness beauty in your local church. But as we consider the Great Commission and the spread of gospel communities in the ancient world, the New Testament also showcases God’s visible, global grace in other churches.

When you think about churches in your city and around the world, what’s your first impulse? Are you celebrating God’s work in those churches? Or mulling over the ways they’re “less healthy” than your church? As Mark Dever has said, “The most important things about our church have to be the things that we have in common with every other true Christian church that there is in our city, country, or around the world—in all places, ever since Jesus.”

Remember that Every Church is Imperfect

Sadly, we often switch that around. We make our distinctives the most important things about us—over-emphasizing tertiary things, under-emphasizing the main things, and feeding a tribalistic tendency. How do we combat this? There are many ways, but here’s one: marvel at God’s beauty in churches that are doing things “wrong.” That last word wasn’t a typo. Thousands of churches are doing a million things you disagree with, and Jesus is caring for those churches in countless ways. As they lift his name up through their proclamation of the gospel, the Spirit of Christ is overcoming their apparent shortcomings out of his deep love for them and his divine power.

Jesus isn’t handicapped by the imperfections of other churches.

I’m not suggesting we minimize doctrinal precision or sound ministry philosophy. We should labor to be as biblical as possible. But let’s also remember that Jesus isn’t handicapped by the imperfections of other churches. And he’s not handicapped by the flaws of your church. Your church is probably less healthy than you think, and God is undoubtedly using her more than you can imagine. Nothing can stop Jesus from loving his bride, the church, which means there’s visible grace for us to witness. 

Look for Ways to Rejoice in Other Churches

Just think about all that will happen this week: new life through the preaching of the gospel, sacrificial love between members who don’t share much in common except Jesus, and unknown pastors in unknown churches spending unknown hours in sermon prep because God’s Word is good, and his people need to hear it. God has created you to notice these manifestations of his grace. It’s why he saved you (1 Peter 2:9). Are you looking for them?

Are you looking for his grace in both churches that are “more fruitful” than yours and those that are “less fruitful” than yours?

Are you looking for his grace in both churches that are “more fruitful” than yours and those that are “less fruitful” than yours? Are you looking for his grace in churches that are “healthier” than yours and in churches that are “less healthy” than yours? Union with Christ frees us to celebrate God’s grace in gospel-preaching churches that span the range of fruitfulness and health. 

Don’t Be Insecure or Prideful Toward Other Churches

Since Jesus is our identity and their identity, we don’t need to feel insecure about churches that are more fruitful and healthier. And we shouldn’t feel superior to churches that are less fruitful and less healthy. Instead, we can feel deep gratitude for them because, in Christ, the grace you see in other churches is yours:

So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3:21–23).

Don’t boast or cringe about your church. For all of God’s grace in all his gospel-preaching churches—whether Presbyterian or Pentecostal, Baptist or Anglican, Methodist or Lutheran—all that grace is yours in Christ.

Give Thanks for the Diversity of God’s Kingdom

Name the church and claim the grace. Name the Presbyterian church on 4th Street and claim their evangelistic zeal. Name the Pentecostal church in Tokyo and claim their faithfulness in prayer. Name the Baptist church in Cairo and claim their doctrinal integrity. Name the church and claim the grace! You’re a citizen of a diverse kingdom, a never-ending city of visible grace, and it’s all yours.

Every church is a new road that promises unique glory. Each congregation is a new peak with a landscape you’ve never seen before.

This article is a lightly edited version of Caleb Batchelor’s forthcoming book, Visible Grace: Seeing the Church the Way that Jesus Does, published by 10ofThose.

Caleb Batchelor

Caleb Batchelor is the Assistant Pastor at First Baptist Church of Boynton Beach.


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