“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5.
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16.
I get people where I live here, who ask me from time-to-time, “Did you go to Church today?”
And a lot of times, I say, ‘I go to Church every day.’ Or sometimes I say, ‘Yes, I am part of The Church.’
You see, I believe that many confuse a building with who and what is The Body of Christ.
It is not a building; it is not a place, but it is a relationship with others who are joined together spiritually under the headship of Christ.
In the first century, if you were a believer you were, inherently, a part of The Church. If you weren’t a part of The Church, no one called you a believer.
Yes, I realize that we are encouraged to not forsake the assembling together as some do, and yet much of what is assembling is done under the auspices of certain programs, and other man-made tendencies which weren’t the original idea of what the early Church had in mind.
Throughout history, we see some building elaborate buildings and synagogues thinking that this type of thing would honor God, and it doesn’t.
When I hear of this sort of thing, I am reminded by the words of Nathan the prophet as he spoke to King David:
“And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies; that the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.
And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee. And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?
Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?
Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel:
And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.
Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,
And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house.” 2 Samuel 7:1-11.
Are we not to be knitted together as “living stones” to form a building in the Spirit? Or are those stones to be placed in a literal building where their shiny appearance is illuminated by the ornate cloths and wooden pews of an elaborate building?
Of course the answer is no, and yet then how can we be joined together?
Somehow it is frowned upon that some would not dress-up in their finest clothes to drive to the building on First and Main to sit through a wonderful sermon, pass the offering plate around, and stand up for this song and that one.
And then at the end of the service, we are encouraged to shake hands with a man dressed in robes telling him what a wonderful sermon it was.
Perhaps I’m an outcast. Perhaps I’m too unorthodox for many, and yet I believe that His word to me is true, as He speaks to me through His voice and His word daily about this issue and many others.
The Church isn’t a building, it’s a people.
It’s a people that love God and love others. It’s a people that celebrate. It’s a people that bless and serve those around them. It’s a people that listen well to those around them that do not yet know Jesus as LORD.
It’s also a people who know how to rest and work to the glory of God. It’s a people that are much more than this, but certainly not a people that are less than this.
When Christians substitute seeing themselves as The Church and instead see The Church as a building we go to, we lose a fundamental piece of what it means to actually be Christian.
When I separate “Church” out to something that I go to, I no longer see myself as a part of The Church, but rather The Church is peripheral to me.
There is me… and then there is The Church… but the two are not one-in-the same.
This is not biblical and it leads down a path to Christian consumerism where The Church (which exists apart from me) is supposed to serve me and meet my needs and preferences.
Viewing The Church in this way converts it from a people (which I am a part of) to a vending machine of religious goods and services for my personal benefit.
I have been a part of many Church buildings in the past, and have gathered together with some for different conferences, meetings, and other types of services.
I just believe that we much expand our view of what Church really is and should be about. Several years ago I was called to go to different Churches in our city and speak a word to them.
This went on for perhaps a two year period. I always approached the pastor and spoke with him ahead of time.
Truly there are wonderful people who gather together on a Sunday or a Saturday, to worship and to be involved in a service, and that is fine and well and good.
However, let us not confuse what Church really should be about and what is really is in its essence.
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson of In His Truth Ministries came to The LORD is a special way in 1975 and has prophesied regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?