The Church in America

I don’t know what comes to mind for you when you hear this title. For me it’s not often first the right thing. When I think of “Christianity in America” I have to work to remember why many sad things often first come to mind and then move on to something correct on purpose. I soon think then of what I see several times a week in my local church. I think of the kind of place where I want to center the rest of my life. A taste of heaven. I think of solid Bible teaching, of love, of truth, of joy, and of a group of people truly carrying one another in weekly fellowship with God. I think of men learning to be men, and of women learning to be women. I think of their kids in solid homes as God commands with their little feet dangling at their dinner tables in random wonderful conversation. I think of the discussions I see between believers both young and old in my generation all getting after millennias-old truths again. I think of people laughing and crying together toward one glorious end under the hand of the Almighty God. Maybe this isn’t what you thought of when you read the phrase. I don’t presume to know what shapes your views, but I know and want to share briefly a bit of what shapes mine. What shapes my view, through all the rest, is the Bible.
If I asked any senior leader in the Army, “What makes a good platoon?” I’d get varying answers. But no answer would be correct that contradicted Army doctrine in some way. It’s the same with any good church and the Bible’s 66 books.

My zeal is for the church as a whole. By “church” I mean those united to God in Christ in every place under heaven. I am exceedingly zealous for them. For that very diverse body. For its purity, doctrine, worship, and practice. For the people’s sanctification (growth in holiness). That’s what shepherds are all about. One of my many teachers, the Apostle Paul, spoke of his own work in the following way to a church in Greece: “Not that we domineer over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.” 2 Corinthians 1:24. For those in Christ, this is what we essentially do in the church. When you think of a “church” does a group of men as your pastors laboring for the joy of their people soon come to mind? If not, I pray that it will some day! Without the triune God behind it as one’s pursuit, the church will never get you there, but when someone is seeking for Jesus, they’ll find him in a good church.

The church (by extension I mean any local Bible-believing group) is what it’s always been when the truth of God has taken hold. No nation can truly change this. There have been many perverts of the church. Sure. There are still many today. But the church (any good church) has never changed its mission or foundation. Want to see a good church? You’ve got to know where to look. Come and talk to me about it. I’ll tell you what it is and where to find it. It’s worth moving to a city for. It’s worth spending your time in. It’s where you can see your kids grow up well. Most importantly, a good church is where God puts his people so that he can give of himself to them.

A sound view of what any local church should be (whether in America, Africa, or in Pakistan) cannot be shaped well by any source other than what the Bible says it should be. And the Bible is clear. Where do you get your view on the church? I hope it’s in what you’ve seen this week in your own life. The church in America has its own cultural surroundings and issues to contend with for sure, but it’s the same church doing that same work all over the planet.

Joseph Pittano

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