Sunday, July 25, 2010
In Search of the True Church
What do you do when you drive by a church? Do you admire the architecture? Do you look at the religious symbols? Do you identify that building with God?
The reality is that, when we think of the church, we think of a building. However, the church is not a building. The church consists of those who have been born again by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is not a building made by hands--it is, quite literally, the Body of Jesus Christ. The Greek word for church is "ekklesia" which means assembly. In ancient Greek culture, it referred to the principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens. As it is used today, it is the local assembly of the members of the Body of Christ.
However, in our vernacular, we speak of "going to church" as if the place we are headed is actually the church. It is not the church. It is merely a building where we worship the Lord, receive the teaching of the Word of God, celebrate the Lord's table and baptize new converts. Interestingly, in the first century, Christians did not worship in buildings. They worshiped in the home.
In Acts, chapter 2, beginning at verse 42, it says: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." (ESV)
And all throughout the New Testament, we see references about the church that met regularly in people's homes.
This is not to say that there is no place for church buildings. They are vital for large assemblies and the corporate worship of the saints. However, we should see them as what they are: buildings.
The truth is, many of our local assemblies spend far too much money on buildings that are only used for a few hours each week. I would rather see, in their place, large multi-use structures that can be used by several ministries and churches for the building up of the saints for the purpose of ministry.
I would also like to see more home churches where people can get together and interact and support one another as the Body of Christ. The home is a place where people can worship intimately, study the Bible together, share a hymn or a revelation from the Word of God.
Worship should not be a spectator sport or a form of entertainment where we come to soak up everything that we see and hear. It should be interactive and participatory. As Paul says in first Corinthians 14 and verse 26: "What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up."
We should find a way to go back to the days where believers can participate more fully in worship. I think that this can be done more pragmatically when the church meets in a home setting.
Finally, we need to understand that being a member of the church does not just mean that we go to a building for few hours a week. Being a member of the church means that we live for Him 24/7/365 and acknowledge Him in everything that we do. We should praise and worship Him daily no matter where we are. For God is with us all the time and not merely when we are in a church building.