I was having a discussion with a woman who was visiting our church last night. She was telling me how she was new to this whole “church thing”, and that she believed that God was with her wherever she was. She didn’t believe that she needed to be in a church in order to be a Christian. In fact, she is not alone in her belief. Have you ever heard anyone say that they feel like he or she can be a better Christian outside of church than inside of it? If you’ve ever heard anyone use that statement, or some variation of it, it is usually followed by a rant on how hypocritical churches are, how everyone tries to act like they are perfect, how nobody is real in church today.

 

In part, she is correct. You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian, and God does hear our prayers at home just as clearly as He does in a church. He can receive our worship at home just as easily as He can receive it in church. But I wonder how Christians can disregard His command that we not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  Even in Hebrews 10:25, we are commanded to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” There are numerous reasons why it is important for Christians to meet together regularly. We can encourage each other, grow one another, assist one another, prepare one another, forgive one another, and many more things. It’s during this time that we are prepped for the work that each individual is called and chosen to do in their community.  When I hear the argument against church buildings, it just feels to me like a complete cop out. Yes, I know that there are people everyday who are hurt and wounded, scarred and scorned within church bodies. I hate that this stuff happens, and to me it seems that this happens because we are not being lead by the Holy Spirit enough. I also understand that we can thrive when in the right fellowship, and sometimes that takes time. But it just feels wrong that so many sit on the sidelines and criticize instead of getting involved. Yes, God is with us always, in every situation, but He knows how important those relationships are to our spiritual growth and maturity. In the early church, they worked everything out as a body. They gave all that they had for the uplifting and establishment of the church in that society. But even more, we have to remember that the church building is nothing but a symbolic atmosphere. Church is not a place that we go to. Church is who we are. Jesus even said as much when he declared that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit.

 

So, we see that church is not something that we do. We don’t do church. We ARE church. The same praise and worship; the same bible study that happens on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings, should be the same thing happening in our lives every day. How else can the church be effective if this is not happening? I would also argue that if we are honest with ourselves, we surely have to know that the reason many of our church buildings are not as effective as they could be stems from the lack of Christians willing to step in and step up to their callings. I believe that God created the church to be an entity of self -preserving power from the Holy Spirit. He calls people to church assemblies because they possess gifts and talents that can help prepare and equip that assembly to affect radical change in that community.  In every church body there is everything that church needs to be successful.

 

So, to me, a Christian who has time to complain about what church is not, needs to focus inward. Maybe the reason that your particular church is not meeting your expectations is because you aren’t doing your part. Don’t sow seeds of sedition. Be the change that you want to see in your church.  If there is a ministry that you think would meet your needs, chances are that it would meet others’ needs as well. Start it! DO something! Do ANYTHING! Make sure that your life AS the church is filled with the Spirit of God, so that your life IN the church assembly can be fruitful and powerful.  There is no perfect church, but there are churches all over the world in the midst of being perfected by the Spirit of God.

 

Maybe it is time that we pray for God to take us back to the early days of the church, as seen in Acts. It was a place where nobody had too much, and nobody had too little. It was a place where not only the Apostles did work, but the congregation bared an equal responsibility to preach the word with urgency and love, and signs followed them as well.  It was a church on fire, a Body in the world, yet living very much beyond it. And while it should be easier for us to be more effective, with social media, etc, the true battle lies in our own hearts. We persecute each other, because we are not truly BEING the church.

 

Christ is returning for a church without spot or blemish. What will He find in us, Church?

 

Until next time, be blessed.

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