Let's clear the air. The Church Universal is an undeniable force in Scripture. I know that God is omnipresent and all, but do we really think that Paul was referring to the multiple bodies of Christ in Ephesians 4:4? Did Christ's blood only obtain one local gathering in Ephesus? (Acts 20:28) Did Christ only have in mind one local gathering that "the gates of hell" would not prevail against? (Matthew 16:18) And what local church gets the honor of being the one that John saw coming down out of heaven? (Revelation 21:9-10)
The evidence of the universal church is irrefutable. But it doesn't end there. The Church Universal is displayed in local assemblies across the earth, that gather regularly to worship the LORD in loving community together. The Universal Church is no substitute for this biblical reality in the lives of believers.
And this is where "the rubber meets the road". This wonderful thing has been laid out in Scripture. It sounds real good. But what does it look like? Sadly, the answer to that question; the display of the Universal Church in local assemblies is THE hardest part of the Christian walk. You thought it was your sanctification: You're right. You thought it was defending your faith: You're right. You thought it was evangelism: You're right. You thought it would be covenant marriage: You're right. You thought it was raising your kids in a Christ-Centered way: You're right. And these things are summed up in the Local Church. Without it, these things have no foundation, with Christ as the cornerstone.
So why this topic? Because "christians" today are neglecting the Local Church in pursuit of their own agendas. Sure, they may be committed to something that claims that it is a local church. But is it functioning in a God-glorifying way, dictated by the Word of God? No. The Church that people actually want exists only in the world, not in scripture. People want a church that doesn't disciple; that doesn't hold them accountable; that doesn't preach the hard parts of scripture FAITHFULLY; that doesn't get involved in their lives in a way that pushes them closer to Jesus and away from sin. Now, everybody would say that this is what they want, but when push comes to shove, they're scared, timid, and too weak to handle it. So what do they do? They run or shut down. Then the question arises, if you have no desire to truly be involved in a local church, how can you know you know Jesus? And the truth is, you can't. Because all the fruits of the spirit can only be lived out in a local church setting. Without it, you have water, but no vessel to drink from.
So wake up "christians". Wake up "church". Wake up "pastors". Let us not be deceived. Let us "Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming [and is here] when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." (2 Timothy 4:2-4)