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

Some good reading from today…

C.S. Lewis on the value of “one another.”

“Faith is the backbone and marrow of the Christian’s power to do good: we are weak as water till we enter into union with God by faith, and then we are omnipotent. We can do nothing for our fellowmen by way of promoting their spiritual and eternal interests if we walk according to the sight of our eyes; but when we get into the power of God, and grasp His promise by a daring confidence, then it is that we obtain the power to bless.” —Charles Spurgeon

“As long as I see anything to be done for God, life is worth having; but O how vain and unworthy it is to live for any lower end!” —David Brainerd

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual—or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” —Samuel Adams

Servanthood

ServanthoodThis morning we wrapped up our series called Life Togetherwhere we looked at the one another phrases in the New Testament that related to the Church—with the thought of serving one another.

I think this 1-minute video from John Maxwell captures this thought about servanthood well…

From The Personalized Promise Bible we looked at this prayer that comes from the servanthood example of Jesus in John 13:13-17

Jesus is my Mentor and the Lord of my life. He has left me an example of the greatest servitude the world has ever known. I will do as he did and wash the feet of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I will see the real good and benefit of others through humble service. With a tender heart of compassion, I will take the time to do good to those around me. Through this generosity of service and willingness to give of myself to others, no matter how humbling the service may be, I store up for myself favor upon favor, and blessing upon blessing.

Pray More

I love this passage from J.C. Ryle that I read on the J.C. Ryle Quotes blog.

Pray for yourselves—that you may know the Lord Jesus, and cleave to Him—that you may be kept from falling—that you may serve your generation—that you may be sober in prosperity, patient in trial, and humble at all times.

Pray for the congregation to which you belong—that the word of the Lord may have free course in it, and be glorified—that the household of faith may become stronger and stronger, and the household of unbelief weaker and weaker.

Pray for your country—that her ministers may preach the Gospel, and be sound in the faith—that her rulers may value the Bible, and govern according to it—and that so her candlestick may not be taken away.

And pray for your minister—that he may be strong to work, and willing to labor for your good, that all his sicknesses may be sanctified, and all his health given to the Lord—that he may be ever taught of the Spirit, and thus be able to teach others—that he may be kept faithful unto death, and so be ready to depart when he is called.

Let us all pray, one for the other—I for you, and you for me—and we shall be blessed in our deed!

We can never pray too much!

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