Romans 12:1 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which IS your spiritual Worship.”
ekklesia – Greek – from ek, “out of”, and klesis – “a calling”, “called out”, an assembly. Loosely translated, “like-minded people”. In Greek civil society, it meant a body of citizens “gathered” to discuss the affairs of state.
I have a friend on face book, Phyllis Dayton Wall, who posted this question this evening:
“When you are asked what church do you belong to, what do you say? Is it like city, county, state, and country? Denomination, Christian, Jesus Christ, God? Or do we belong to Christ’s church of Believers? Think about this. Your Thoughts?”
I told Phyllis that that is exactly what I am about to post on my blog. She kindly said I can link my blog to this posting in FB. For that I am grateful. Thank you Phyllis.
This morning, I was tapping a dry well. My goal is to write one blog post a day. I could think of several topics, but couldn’t decide on a single one. (Suggestions welcome).
I went to my room and prayed. My mind was all over the map, and I needed to calm down and get centered on Christ, and listen to the topic HE suggests I write about.
What you will read below is from the outline that came to me as I prayed. And it was not one of the three topics I had on my list.
I have more readers from other walks than I do from the Christian walk. I want to say, right up front, that I appreciate all the lovely letters the non-Christians write to me. They are interesting, and give me a lot to think about. Keep ’em em coming.
This blog is written to the Christians.
I have been away from all things Christian for about 20 years. I have recently returned. Here is my confession. There is a God. God created the Heavens and the Earth. Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. All things were created through Jesus Christ. I belong to the Living God because I believe and confess with my mouth that Jesus died in my place for my sin. Scary as this may be to others, this makes me your brother in Christ. I wrestled with even posting this. But having been on the outside for 20 years, I have a perspective I would like to share.
From the outside of Christianity, looking in, when I think of Christians, I also think of the church building they go to. I see Roman Catholic, Mormon, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, non-denominational, etc. When I was a student at Wayland Baptist University, I used to joke that I am a member of “The First United, Holy Roman, Methyl-Bapterian, Church of God in Christ, With Fire and Signs Following” Church.
Looking from the outside at all this, I can see why non-Christians can get confused. When we ask Christians, “What is Church?”, you will get a variety of answers, but most answers boil down to what denomination and building they go to. To someone looking for a cogent answer, this is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
Most Christians I have talked to will tell you that they “serve the Church”, when they probably mean they are very involved in the group of people that meet at the same building as they do. They sing in the Choir, they are Deacons, they lead a Youth Group, are Sunday School Teachers, etc. And believe me, that is very important. In fact, that is called for among the congregations of believers. But, again, looking from the outside, I still do not know what the church is, or means. I am beginning to believe Christians, many of them, most of them, do not really know what “Church” is, outside of their own denomination, and building.
The church you attend IS where you go to fellowship and celebrate the joy of your salvation. But, honestly, if the biggest Christian risk you take with your life is to attend Church, then you are not really BEING the Church.
Let me clarify before you decide to gather in my yard and burn me at the stake.
Two wolves were discussing their dinner plans with a Hen and a Pig. The Wolves said they were very hungry for a bacon and egg breakfast. Immediately the Hen said, “OK, We will pitch in.” When the pig heard the hen say that, he objected saying, “Wait a minute! Your only sacrifice is Two Eggs. I will have to give my life for these Wolves breakfast!”
Your Minister, and maybe your Choir Director (Depending on the size of your church) have committed their lives to serve Christ. They have gone whole Hog to answer the “ekklesia ”, the called out ones.
All the other people who serve the church are just giving their eggs to the cause. AND THERE IS NOTING WRONG WITH THAT, except the only thing they are really serving are the people in the local building where they all meet on Sunday.
Look around. Ask yourselves this: Now I am going to play “Devil’s Advocate”. Look at the American society. Look at where the moral standards have gone over the last 40 years. Look where we are politically. Look at the intensity of the acts of violence that are committed here. There was a time in our culture where, even if you didn’t attend Church, the effect the local church had on society was quite strong, and even the unsaved adhered, as best as they could, to that standard.
Now I can get to the point.
(This will make sense by time you finish this paragraph). A hologram image is put onto a film inside a piece of glass. When coherent light hits the hologram, a three-dimensional image can be seen. Let’s say you just got through admiring that hologram, and you went to put it back in its case. Before you can get it to the case, you drop it, and it breaks into several pieces. BUT, being the hologram maker, you know that all the information that was on the whole hologram is also on every piece of the hologram. You can STILL project the whole image from just one piece.
The whole hologram was made from all the pieces that you gathered up, but each piece IS the hologram.
This is how the Church is supposed to be. Ekklesia is a gathering of the called out people that make a the image of Christ. If, for some reason, that church, and all other churches in America were to cease to exist, does that mean the ekklesia stops existing? NO. It means that the light that shown in the Church is the same coherent light that shows in each Christian.
“But What if MY Church is Dead”
Things that need to be in your church. 1. Coherent light (Jesus is the light of the world), and 2. genuine believers. If your “church” is dead, maybe there are some tougher questions you need to ask. Start with “Where’s the SALT?” No individual, or gathering of individuals can obey God, or do the things that Christ did, on his own power. You have to submit to Christ, and work through the power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise you will be part of the falling away when things get tough. and the church you attend is nothing but another social club hiding behind Christ as an excuse to meet.
Each individual believer attending any gathering of believers is, in and of themselves, the light of the world. When you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are remade in His image (REF: II CORINTIANS 5:17).
Lets check the facts. The body of believers all have this in common with each individual believer:
1. They are redeemed – You have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. He paid for your sin, and you accept that free gift of eternal life. You are His.
2. They are filled with the Spirit of God – Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come into you, to teach you, and convict you in the way you should go.
3. They know the Word of God – You KNOW that the WORD (Jesus) created all things that exist, and you know that God has given His word in the form of scripture, and you study and DO the word. Not because it will gain you brownie points with God, but because your love of Christ compels you to obey His word.
Both the assembly of believers and each individual has the same mandate. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength. To love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.
Your Church, if it is a body of believers, will be doing these things. YOU, if you are a believer, will do these things.
Looking at “Church” from the outside, all I see is a joke. I see an impotent group of people who no longer know what they believe, but it sure is nice to see all those folks and hear a nice message from the pastor, every Sunday. Whether the body of believers are assembled or standing alone, the Character of the Believer should be the same. Rather than abdicate our call to the whims of the Government, who has gladly taken the place of the Church (Look at all the social programs THEY are funding, that we gave up on!). It IS the Church’s job to meet the needs of the local community. It is each Christians job to be just like Christ, as the bible says we should be.
Churches and individual believers sin when all they do is get together and talk to themselves, and reject the sinner. I can say this because I have been a minister and a sinner. I understand that we all get in our comfort zones, but tell me where that is in the scriptures. We are called to deny complacency, be filled with the Spirit, and follow Jesus. He said you will be reviled, hated, taken to jail, spit on, and persecuted. That is what being like Jesus is. If your comfort, convenience, lack of desire, or worry of losing your job, or social standing is more important than being like Christ, then you need to re-examine what the Bible has to say about Jesus’ followers.
While our government is aiding those who hate us, and kill us, we are to be the light in the world, as a group and as individuals.
What is the Church? Christ’s church is every believer who genuinely has been saved. Whether we are an assembly or not, our behavior is to be the same as if we were the only person on earth who believed in Jesus. Feed the poor, give to those in need, visit the prisoners, go where Jesus went, to the lost, the unwashed, the unclean, visit and support the widows, and the orphans. You are the only church that outsiders see. You don’t need anyone’s permission to obey God. Go, and be that Church.