Scripture: Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:27
What do you think of when I mention the word ‘church’? Perhaps a building with a steeple? Maybe you’ve known ‘church’ in a different setting like a theatre or a converted warehouse? What about the people? Some will immediately think of a small, close-knit gathering of believers, whereas others might be used to going to ‘church’ with thousands of other people whose names they will never know.
Some of us have had wonderful experiences of church – a place where our deepest relationships have been formed, where we can laugh, cry and really be ourselves. A place where we have felt God’s presence and grown in our relationship with Him. Others, if they are really honest have been bored at church and sometimes wondered if they are really getting anything out of it at all. Even worse, some have been badly hurt at church by other members or even by their leaders. I don’t need to tell you that being a Christian isn’t a lifetime protection against being hurt! I thank God that He can heal our hearts as we choose to forgive.
Ever since I became a Christian, it has been drilled into me how important it is to go to church and to fellowship with other believers. I agree wholeheartedly with that. We need each other, and meeting at least once a week is a healthy practise. However, I have also noticed that for many people, ‘going to church’ has become a substitute for being the Church.
We need to be constantly reminded that Jesus never actually told us to gather together once a week, sing songs, listen to a sermon, drink tea or coffee together and then go home. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about any of these things. However, we have a serious problem if we are ONLY doing these things! You see, the Church is not really about us. I once heard it said that ‘the church is the only institution in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.’ It was never supposed to be a social club for the born-again! We have a job to do.
Jesus is the head of the Church, and we are His body. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been given the task of continuing Christ’s ministry on the earth. Before Jesus ascended to heaven he told his disciples very clearly what they were supposed to do. He said “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Can you believe it – not even a mention of buildings, musical worship or tea and cakes!!
This is probably also a good time to mention that God never asked us to ‘build’ the church for Him. Jesus said ‘I will build my church’ (Matthew 16:18). Our job is simply to carry out the commission He has given us and He will do the rest.
Can I encourage you to keep going to church, but to put even more emphasis on being the Church. In my personal experience there is nothing more exhilarating than committing your life to fulfilling the simple commission of Jesus, all the time relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to enable you to do it.
Prayer: Father, thank you that you are building your Church and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it! Thank you that you have not called me to live a boring life, but that you that you have an amazing plan for me which will come to pass if I choose to walk in obedience to you. I’m sorry for the times I’ve settled for going to church when you’ve wanted me to focus on being the Church. Would you help me to live my life in such a way that you, your Kingdom and your purposes are at the top of my priority list, and would you empower me by your Holy Spirit to be a living example to those around me as I carry out the simple commands of your Great Commission. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Source: Seeds of the Kingdom