How to Find a Good Church

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion– to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV)

“Do you know where I can find a good church?” Have you ever been asked that question, or asked it yourself? The fact that we have to even pose the question tells us that there is a problem. That there are not only good churches, but bad ones. In essence, what we are asking is, “can you tell me where I can find Jesus and His true people?” We have all had our fill of the Pharisee kind of religion. Like rain in Oregon, that stuff is all over the place.

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Real Love and its Counterfeits

John 13:34-35 ESV  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  (35)  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

It is quite easy to talk about love. About loving others. Most people would claim that they exercise love, at least toward those closest to them. I suppose the most wicked man or woman has at one time or another mouthed that phrase, “I love you.”

And we certainly see this among people who profess to be Christians. What local church, for instance, doesn’t have signs and slogans about how everyone there just loves one another?  Church advertisements often use jingles similar to “loving God and loving one another.” That kind of thing.

And yet….is all of this really the real deal? I suggest to you that most of it is not. Think about the things that go on in the typical church:

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“Give us Barabbas!” – When the Wicked are Chosen and the Righteous Rejected

Matthew 27:21-23 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!”  And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Barabbas was a notorious criminal. Jesus was perfectly righteous. Yet, in spite of the protests of the governor and the absence of charges, the Jews cried our for His death. “Let Him be crucified!”  They chose a wicked man over a righteous Lamb. We all know how deceptive abusers can be. Sociopaths, narcissists, psychopaths – how they can charm! And we know that this is one of the reasons pastors and whole churches are taken in by these wicked ones. Naivete. Ignorance of abuse and its tactics. All of us were there at one time ourselves.

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