Friday, January 24, 2014

Church

I wrote this on January 24, 2013, one year ago today. I didn't publish it because I felt it was possibly too condemning. A year later, it seems even more important to understand what the Church is, and what it isn't, and we beg you for your prayers as we seek clarity from God - where do we fit in His body? -Gabe, 1/24/2014



If/when you go to church, do you feel uncomfortable? Do the sermons and people seem judgmental? If there's a place for your children, is it fun enough for them?

Or, do you attend a church that addresses social issues with a positive, uplifting message? Are your children entertained? Is there tolerance for all walks of life?

Especially in America, there's a "church culture" that desires to have their itching ears tickled by a dynamic speaker. They want their social needs met by a sensitive, caring counselor. They object to worship music that doesn't match their generation's style. In short, they are looking for entertainment and "acceptance". They desire to be comforted in their sin. "Tolerance!" they scream, in the same breath condemning the "intolerant" (anybody else see a logical conundrum here?) as draconian, hidebound, conservative, or even "haters" (oooh!).

Our word "church" comes from a Greek word (kuriakos) that is not the word used to describe the Church in the New Testament. The actual Greek word used in the New Testament is "ecclesia", which means "The called-out (ones)". From its very definition, the Ecclesia-Church are called to be different from the rest of the world.
This is a church building in Africa
So is this...

Here is that difference: the Ecclesia-Church is the Bride of Christ; also referred to as the Body of Christ. It is the goal of this Bride/Body to grow in Christ. Addressing this Ecclesia-Church, Peter said  "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 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 2:2-5)

Mark Dever, pastor and author of 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, states "There are things in the Bible that we want to avoid. None of us is so holy and perfect and well-shaped spiritually that we happily welcome every word in God's book." Can you see that the Church is not a place we go on Sunday to feel comfortable, hear a good word, and go home again unchanged?

Os Guinness (author and social critic, and hey! apparently the progeny of Arthur Guinness, the  brewer) said, "the exaggerated half-truth about the church's "needing to meet needs" once again breeds unintended consequences. Just as church-growth's modern passion for "relevance" will become its road to irrelevance, so its modern passion for "felt needs" may turn the church into an echo chamber of fashionable needs that drown out the One voice that addresses real human need below all felt needs."

That real human need is this: a right relationship with our Creator. Friends, there is nothing else of importance. I know we have so many "needs" clamoring for first place. I wish you could believe me when I say that everything else is brought into perspective when you fix your eyes on the Savior.
This is the Church
The Church is not the place we go to get comforted in our sin. It is collectively the Called-Out Ones - the Body and Bride of Jesus, who is God-With-Us. If you have been reluctant to "go to church", or are currently attending one that doesn't teach directly from the Bible (and I don't mean using verses here and there to make a point), can I encourage you to find a body of Christ-followers who are truly interested in growing closer to Christ? Come as you are - Jesus sacrificed himself for you exactly as you are, right now. Come, and gaze on the face of your Deliverer.

- Gabe

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