I think we have made the Church and Christianity something different than what the New Testament shows us. We’ve created far too many “things” which simply aren’t in the Bible. That’s not to say these things are wrong, but they may become stumbling blocks to us if we make secondary things the primary thing.
So what is the primary thing about church?
It might surprise you to know that the word church is only used twice by Jesus (Matthew 16:18, 18:17). He used a Greek word ekklesia, which meant a gathering of people called out from their homes into some public place. This word originally had more of a “town hall” meaning to it, but Jesus used this as a starting point to show us true church.
In Christ’s time the church for Him was…
Mobile—wherever He was, church was. Look at the extensive traveling He did. He held as many “church services” in people’s dining rooms as He did in the synagogues.
Messy—often as Jesus was speaking…
- People constantly coming and going
- Pharisees yapping and interrupting
- Kids playing
- Women sitting at His feet, anointing Him, crying over Him
- Food and drink were usually involved
- Foot washing was taking place
- When He was outdoors: wind, waves, farmers, passers-by…
- When He was indoors: food being served and eaten, roofs being ripped off…
- People constantly interrupted His sermons: “Blessed is Your mother…”; “Tell my brother to give me my inheritance…”; “My daughter is dying!…”
- “I must go through Samaria.”
- “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
- “Zaccheus, today I’m eating dinner at your house.”
- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach good news to the poor, freedom to the captive, sight to the blind, favor to the oppressed.”
Jesus asked His disciples Who they thought He was (see Matthew 16:13-18). The correct answer was Peter’s declaration, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus said, “You’re right, and on that declaration I will build My church.”
Our job is to make Jesus known as the Christ, the Son of the living God (v. 16).
Christ’s job is to build His Church (v. 18).
He didn’t tell us to build a building and invite people to come on Sundays.
He didn’t tell us to start a Sunday School or a feeding program or a youth group.
There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they are not the main thing.
The main thing is Jesus being seen as the Son of the living God. Where we are gathered together in that confession and purpose—even just two or three of us—that’s where His church is (see Matthew 18:20).
We must be mobile, taking a meaningful message into people’s messy lives. That is true church.