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Posts Tagged ‘#thechurchisnotabuilding’

I cannot wait to go back to the warehouse we call our church building, to see those who we call our church family, to sing, as a congregation our songs of praise and worship to God.

This is the yearning of many around the world, during this time of pandemic.

Last weekend I went shopping and found myself walking out of the store thinking the following :

my entire church family of hundreds of people would have been a safer group to be with than in that store of limited numbers. Why can’t the church be opened up?

It was my heart cry. Because the people I worship with, unlike the strangers in that store, love each other enough to keep our distance from each other.

I mulled over my experience and thoughts when listening to the news from around the world … it’s funny how hearing your own thoughts coming through the mouths of others can allow your ears and heart to where your thoughts are really coming from.

My desire, though sincere, was morphing into a perspective that I deserved to go back to church, that it is my right.

That set me on a search for truth and there is only one source of truth, God’s word. What does the Bible say about the church.

Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’ Acts 7:48-50

(God’s house, the house of God is not made by human hands)

… you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

(The foundation of the church are the apostles, the cornerstone … what the entire church is constructed/depended on, is Jesus Christ. We are where the holy spirit lives)

For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9

(we are the church)

But Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Hebrews 3:6

(we, the church, need to stay close, be faithful to him)

And then I found these words, from Charles Spurgeon,

“”What is a church? It is an assembly. And a Christian church is an assembly of faithful men (and women), of men (and women) who know the truth, believe it, affirm it, and adhere to it. The Greek word signifies an assembly summoned out of the whole population to exercise the right of citizenship. An ecclesia, or church, is not a mob, nor a disorderly gathering rushing together without end or purpose, but a regular assembly of persons called out by grace, and gathered together by the Holy Spirit. Those persons make up the assembly of the living God.” (What the Church Should Be Sermon #1436)

In this time of living in a pandemic, the church, anchored and built by God, made up of the people of God, has continued to assemble … in Spirit, as one. We have met online in conference, in church services, in small groups and on social media. We have been the hands and feet of God, doing his good work by committing our work in our jobs to him, by caring for the elderly, the sick, the poor and disenfranchised.

“Churches are essential.
That’s why they never closed.
Buildings may have,
but the church didn’t
The gospel will never be silenced.
It will always find a way to be told.”

Natalie Grant

What I found interesting was the timing of this line of thinking, for it began about the time in the church calendar when we celebrate the ascension of Jesus.

Acts 1 tells us of his ascension :

“They (the apostles) were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Let me paraphrase … the apostles, after forty days with the risen Christ, watch him ascend into the sky, the heavens. They are standing there, staring up, transfixed, when they hear a voice from two angelic beings standing with them saying,

People, what the heck are you doing here, staring at the sky? Did you not listen to Jesus at all? He’s gone, but he will be back. Now get to work! Do the work of the church, like he modelled to you! You do not need his physical presence anymore than you need a brick and mortar building. Go, spread the good news … in word and in deed.

“We are his temple. We do not turn in a certain directlon to pray. We are not bound by having to go into a building so that we can commune with God. There are no unique postures and times and limitations that restrict our access to God. My relationship with God is intimate and personal. The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple with him or her. Jesus lifts us beyond the building and pays the human body the highest compliment by making it His dwelling place, the place where He meets with us. Even today He would overturn the tables of those who make it a marketplace for their own lust, greed, and wealth.” Ravi Zacharias

So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:10

It is not our right to go to church, we the church is a responsibility endowed by Jesus Christ.

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Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 6.53.18 PMThis past week was one where I came to understand and appreciate afresh the church as the love story that God intended.

Loving and sincere well wishes to hubby, after his resignation, from people near and far.

Visits from caring people, when one of a family member spent a few hours in hospital.

Messages from my co-ordinator at work, letting me know that there was someone on ‘back-up’ should I need to stay home the next day with my sick loved one.

True care for each other amongst our kids, all dropping everything for each other.

Offers of prayer from all around the world.

In the Greek and Hebrew language the word church is translated as meaning called out or assembly. In neither case does it refer to a building or institution, yet that is often what we think of when we hear or say the word, church.

The early church came together (assemblies) to worship the God who had come, clothed in human skin, to redeem his creation.

In John 13:34-35 (The Message), Jesus gave a new command to his followers (aka. those who would be the early Christian/Christ-following) church:

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

The Matthew Henry Commentary speaks to that verse:

“Before Christ left the disciples, he would give them a new commandment. They were to love each other for Christ’s sake, and according to his example, seeking what might benefit others, and promoting the cause of the gospel, as one body, animated by one soul. But this commandment still appears new to many professors. Men in general notice any of Christ’s words rather than these. By this it appears, that if the followers of Christ do not show love one to another, they give cause to suspect their sincerity.

Showing love to one another is the most distinctive action we can determine to do, in order to set ourselves apart, in order to be called out (to be the church).

By loving each other we mirror the way Jesus lived, we show his love to the world. If we do not show love to one another … are we truly called out? are we truly His church?

I am so thankful to be surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, who walk the walk, talk the talk, and be the church.

 

 

 

 

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