Don't Just Go to Church, Be the Church
Sunday, 14 November 2010 05:00
The mind and heart of one who merely goes to church differs greatly from the mind and heart of one who realizes he is part of the church.
One who merely goes to church sees church as a place. He knows the church is the people, and not a building, yet church is still someplace he goes. Spiritually and physically, he arrives at church and leaves church. It is a place with expectations, conduct and qualities that differ from his day-to-day existence. In his mind and even in his speech, church is a “where” and not a “who.”
He sees church as a temporary activity, an appointment to keep, an obligation to fulfill. It has a start time and an end time and fits neatly into a block in his datebook. It might even be a priority, but it still must compete with other comparable items on his calendar. When an item is completed, he can check it as done, at least until the next scheduled event.
While church may be an enjoyable experience to him, it is just that—an experience. He goes, feels good about it and comes home. He treats church much like he would treat a movie or a concert. The experience might touch him in a deeper way than other activities, but ultimately, it is tantamount to a feeling that comes and then is gone.
Though “church” in our modern culture has in many ways been belittled to this superficial reality, it is simply not treated in this manner in the Bible.
Jesus died for more than a place, an activity or an experience. A Christian must accept and realize his redeemed status as part of the blood-bought church! Paul told the elders of the church in Ephesus, “to shepherd the church of God which he [Jesus] purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
A Christian must begin to see the depth of his relationship to Christ as part of the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2, 9; 22:17). Illustrating the marriage relationship, Paul told the Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
Jesus told Peter “on this rock I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). In light of Peter’s admonishment to us as Christians, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:4-5), realize that Jesus did not have a physical building or place in mind, but a spiritual people in mind. Peter wasn’t suggesting that we go to church. He was telling us to be the church.
Being the church is far more encompassing and requires a far greater commitment than simply going to church. So, the next time you “go to church” … challenge yourself with the question, “What have I done during the rest of the week to be part of the church?”