Updated: Jan 6
Setting the Context:
In my devotion this morning, using You Version, I was challenged to think about why people go to church and to a particular church? Here are some of the things I considered as I let my mind wander through a forest of thoughts.
If the only time set aside to spend time with God in the week is the time spent on Sunday morning in a church, I am probably not worshipping God but self-soothing.
Church can be many things to different people and at times experienced in one person. People are complicated and broken, so that is quite understandable. I must confess to that too and know that when I don't feel like going to church it is when I actually need to go most of all!
Church can be many things
1. Tradition - a family ritual claiming righteousness (we are good people in society - my forebears went to church , helped build the church and it is my church).
2. Idolitary - a form of self-satisfaction, relaxation and entertainment (singing my songs, meeting up with friends and doing my thing so that I feel good about myself ...it's all about me, so it makes church an idol).
3. Worship - about giving God His worth and honouring and praising His Holy Name. Church worship (the service) is where people gather together to grow to know Jesus and seek to receive forgiveness for their sins and to ask Jesus to be with them in their daily lives. The people come to be blessed by God and equipped by God to follow Jesus by living out the mission that he has given for their life. They do not worship the church itself as in the building or the organisation.
What church is NOT
# It is not a place for sanctimonious people who think that they are better than everyone else (cf the Pharisee and the sinner story in the Gospels), But if they think that, they really need to come and get to know Jesus and that he comes to bring all people forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life and a better life here and now.
# It is not for people who think that they do nothing wrong. But if they think that, they really need to come because all are corrupted with the cancer of sin throughout their body, mind and soul.
# It is not a processing office for naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals, although these things do happen in a church. But if they think that, they really need to come because God loves them and has the free gift of life forever to give to them.
# It is not a place free from conflict, disagreements, relationship issues, marriage breakups and people who break the law because it is where sinners come to get help from God! But if they think that, they really need to come because God is the one who sets people free from sin and brings peace where no one else can.
# It is not something we can build for ourselves. God builds, grows and is the Lord of the Church.
What is the church?
The Church is the body of Christ. It is NOT A BUILDING, but the people who are members of God's kingdom. They have been adopted into God's family. They are the true believers in Jesus.
The church is the communion of saints; those who have died in the faith, those believers alive now throughout the world and those who will live and believe in the future until the time of Jesus return. The church is not fully visible, as there are people who attend a church, but who don't believe in Jesus as their saviour. In the Bible it says that on the last day some people will argue with Jesus that they are church. They call on Jesus' name and claim that they did good things, but Jesus says he doesn't know them because they never lived in faith doing the will of his Father in heaven. In other words, they lived a worldly self-serving life and did not honour God.
Are you Church or someone who visits a building once a week for an hour and joins in coffee and cake following the other stuff like singing some songs and hearing a motivational speech on self-improvement?