Contend Earnestly: Church isn't What You Do On Sunday, or a Building You Go To

Friday, August 27, 2010

Church isn't What You Do On Sunday, or a Building You Go To

It is amazing how much you have to keep saying this. It is amazing how much you have to remind people who claim to follow Jesus that the church isn't an organization, but a people. I have once again been emailed by someone saying that I am spiritually confused because I allowed Muslims to come and pray in our church. Huh? If you actually broke that down, that would mean that I allowed a Muslim to enter into my body and pray inside of me. The term "church" literally means, a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.

I still remember something that Ravi Zacharias said years ago. He said,

We can thank God, because we are no longer a people who come together at the temple to pray, but, we come as the temples of God to gather together to pray.

Huge difference. There is nothing sacred about the building you go to on Sunday, at least no more than the bedside you pray at before you go to bed. The only thing that makes that place holy is that you are a temple of the living God lifting your voice to the one who created you. You, because of the imputed righteousness of God, are holy, not a place. The only reason that the ground around the burning bush was holy was because God's presence was there.

Church is an interesting cultural term that has been hijacked. If those who followed Jesus understood that church is who you are, not what you go to, our lives would be more of the radiance of the glory of God everyday. The problem is that because the Roman Catholics took the term to mean a religion instead of a people, it has forever confused people and caused people to stumble.

People now, see church as something you go to, a building, a service, a once a week encounter with the living God. Why don't we just be honest...if you believe that, you might as well be Jewish and live in the Old Testament. I am not trying to slight the Jews, I am just saying that they go to the temple, they are awaiting the rebuilding of the temple, they sacrifice at the temple, they worship at the temple, etc. That is a different paradigm altogether than what a follower of Jesus believes, or should believe.

Because of this confusion, Christians have a bad rap for a very good reason. Historically, and today, Christians do what they want 6 days and 22 hours of the week and then they come to worship God and "be holy" for two hours out of the week when they go to church or to Mass. If we believed that Jesus came to live within us, that he sent his Spirit to commune with us and to guide us, then we would understand that our whole life is a life of worship, all the time. If we understood this, we would love people everyday, we would love our families everyday, we would have communion with God everyday, we would seek to worship God everyday.

We wouldn't make bad business deals on Tuesday and then come to worship on Sunday. Instead, we would worship God through that business deal and then come to worship God on Sunday as well as the gathered church.

We wouldn't yell at our wife and kids on Wednesday, and then act like everything is fine when we come to encounter God at church. Instead, we would be repentant when we yelled at our wife and kids and seek to love God through loving them everyday and then come together as the church gathered and seek forgiveness, guidance and truth from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

I know this sounds pretty basic, but I believe we often look the basic tenets of the faith to try and pursue the "more difficult ones." When in reality, if we focused our efforts on the basic tenets, the more difficult ones would work themselves out.

We will continue to ask our Muslim friends, and any other person seeking to understand Jesus more into our Sunday gatherings or into our building where we meet. We do this because we love our neighbors and seek to bless them. We don't desire to be separated from the world physically, but we seek to infuse the gospel into the world as we await our coming King.

Please know.

You don't go to church, but you are the church if you trust in the work and seek the forgiveness of Jesus.

I just wonder how much people would truly see Jesus if we took our calling to be the church more seriously with our culture. Maybe they aren't denying Jesus, maybe they are denying cultural Christianity that we have so badly misrepresented over the years...To be honest...I desire to deny that as well.


Arthur Sido said...

Quite right. We so overemphasize the Sunday morning meeting that it has become "church", i.e. "go to church", "my church". "your church". We are called to whole life holiness, community, witness to the world and none of that is accomplished by showing up to "church" for some religious rituals once or twice a week.

Maybe if we stopped assuming the church and actually studied what the Bible says about the church, we would have an radically differen outlook on His Body.

Michael said...

I have been pondering for awhile, how do you go to church if you are the church? Good post bro! Don't be discouraged by man and what they say. Holy Spirit (i hope it's ok to say that) poised a question in my quiet time, "are you willing to be rejected by man?" I encourage you to keep writing this and being obedient to what God has called you to do.

Love ya man! Be Blessed!

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