A Unique Look At “Church”

gods-people-are-the-saintsHave you ever noticed that nowhere in the New Testament do we see an “order of service” for a church congregation? It’s simply not there.

Neither is there a list of acceptable songs, or the design of a church building, or how or when Communion is served, or even what clothing the pastor is supposed to wear. Yet we modern-day Christians seem to spend a lot of time not only arguing about these non-essentials, but even (gasp!) evaluating the “churchness” of a church based on these things.

It’s understandable, then, when someone says, “I enjoy being a Christian, but I really don’t like going to church.” Or even insisting that they can be a Christian without attending a church.

But here’s where those statements miss the mark: “Church” was never intended to be merely a group of people who met at a designated address once a week.

The Church that Jesus described—and the Church the apostles were a part of—was a living organism. It was fellow followers of Jesus Christ interacting with each other as they worshiped the Lord.

The Apostle Peter describes a gathering of Christians in just one verse. In this verse he gives five descriptors of how Church should be done. To stress the point that every gathering of Christians is unique, three of Peter’s five descriptors are found nowhere else in Scripture.

  1. Live in harmony with one another (the first unique word)

One translation has this as “one mind.” Paul has a similar thought in 1 Corinthians 14:20. The bottom line—get on the same page working toward the same goal. What’s that goal? Pointing people to Jesus!

2.  Be sympathetic (the next unique word)

A definition we may better understand is “empathy.” This world literally means to “vibrate with others.” Be on in tune with what they’re going through that you can feel it just like it was happening to you.

      3.  Love as brothers

This is the Greek word philadelphos, which means to treat other Christians like they’re from the same womb as you.

4.  Be compassionate

That is: be strong enough to step into other people’s stuff. Keep on increasing your capacity to carry a bigger load for someone else (Galatians 6:2).

      5.  Be humble (the last unique word)

The King James Version translates this “courteous.” Not just being strong enough to help, but gentle enough that your help will be accepted.

Let me repeat: The Church is not a physical address where we gather once per week. YOU are the temple of God’s presence, which is why Jesus said if just two of His followers get together, He is right there with them. That’s right—two Christians can have “church” wherever they happen to meet

Don’t just go to church, BE the church. Don’t miss an opportunity to encourage, pray with, instruct, or learn from another Christ-follower whenever and wherever you happen to meet.

If you’ve missed any messages in this series, you may find the complete list by clicking here.

Links & Quotes

link quote

These are links to articles and quotes I found interesting today.

“It is not hard for the Lord to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better on before. Let us sing hallelujah by anticipation.” —Charles Spurgeon

“A holy life is not an aesthetic, or gloomy, or solitary life, but a life regulated by divine truth and faithful in Christian duty.” —Tyron Edwards

“The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” —Leonard Ravenhill

“If you see church as being just your local fellowship, then you still have not found the true Church. The God-blessed, righteous Church starts where you live.” —David Wilkerson

“As long as Christians split hairs, Christians will split churches.” —Max Lucado

Uh oh! Minimum Wage Hike Would Eliminate 500,000 Jobs

From Tim Elmore: Four Timeless Ideas To Make Your Point

“The Christian church is the body of Christ, Jesus Himself being the Headship of that body. Every true Christian, no matter where he or she lives, is a part of that body, and the Holy Spirit is to the church what our own souls are to our physical bodies.” —A.W. Tozer

Got Problems? Good!

The absence of problems in a church does not mean that everything is fine. It might mean that the church is dead.

Check out these words from A.W. Tozer—

Tozer“Some misguided Christian leaders feel that they must preserve harmony at any cost, so they do everything possible to reduce friction. They should remember that there is no friction in a machine that has been shut down for the night. Turn off the power, and you will have no problem with moving parts. Also remember that there is a human society where there are no problems—the cemetery. The dead have no differences of opinion. They generate no heat, because they have no energy and no motion. But their penalty is sterility and complete lack of achievement. What then is the conclusion of the matter? That problems are the price of progress, that friction is the concomitant of motion, that a live and expanding church will have a certain quota of difficulties as a result of its life and activity. A Spirit-filled church will invite the anger of the enemy.” (emphasis added)

What do you think?

A Symphony Of Prayer

Here’s something amazing Jesus said about prayer:

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth AGREE about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:19-20)

The word for agree has an interesting definition. It literally means to be in harmonious agreement. If you’ve ever listened to a piece of music, I’m sure you know the difference between melody and harmony. Melody is typically the notes you sing along to; harmony is made by the accompanying notes which fill in the musical number.

So Jesus doesn’t tell us to simply pray the same words as someone else, but to be in harmony with them… fill in their prayer with complimenting notes.

But the Greek word itself is very suggestive too. The Greek word translated agree is symphōneō, from which we get our word for symphony.

Again, you probably know that one person is not a symphony, but a solo artist. But when other instruments are added, the music swells and builds and becomes a masterful piece of art!

So too with our prayers. How beautiful it is when we pray together. It is literally a symphony in God’s ears! And not only that, but He says “There I am with them.” God Himself stops to hear this beautiful sound.

I hope you have a prayer partner with whom you can harmonize and make beautiful music together.

And be sure to join me next week as we continue in our series The Danger Of Prayerlessness.

Harmony Of Unity

One of the great joys for me living in Cedar Springs has been my involvement in the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association. It is so cool to get together with pastors from backgrounds so different from mine—Christian Reformed, Wesleyan, non-denominational, Methodist, and others—and have such unity.

It reminds me of what King David wrote:

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

That word unity (or some translations say harmony) means everyone getting together at the same place, at the same time, and for the same purpose. Sort of like a choir that shows up to sing. Some may sing alto, some bass, some soprano, and some tenor. They may not sing all the same notes, but the notes they do sing brings out a full harmonious sound. So much better than everyone singing the exact same notes!

Our Association is planning a community-wide worship service on August 29 in Morely Park. And, appropriately enough, we’re calling this worship service UNITY. Calvary Assembly of God is relocating our service that morning to the park to be a part of the beautiful harmony.

I wouldn’t miss it! Because in this harmony of unity is where David says God’s blessing is:

Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced His blessing, even life everlasting.

If you are in the Cedar Springs area on August 29, come and join us.

Pastors, if you live in another community, I would encourage you to begin to harmonize with the other God-loving, Christ-following churches in your city. That’s where God blesses!

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