THE TRUE MEANING OF 'CHURCH'
Freelance writer Lupie Riley
Thousands of people throughout the world are involved in this once a week ritual called 'Church'. They rise in the morning put on their 'goin to meetin' cloths and head out the door to their choice of house of worship called 'Church'. For a large percentage it has become a ritual or religious obligation. They put in their hour and call it good for the rest of the week. Little do they realize or acknowledge the best part is missing--a moment by moment, day by day relationship with the One who made all there is--our Creator and Father God. This God we pay homage to once a week is the same God who revealed himself in the human flesh of a man called Jesus. "Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen God. He existed before God made anything at all, and, in fact, Christ himself is the Creator who made everything in the heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can't; the spirit world with its kings and kingdoms, its rulers and authorities; all were made by Christ for his own use and glory." Col. 1: 15 This God/man is the One who paid the price for all sin that separates mankind from a Holy, Righteous and all powerful Creator who thought and spoke it all into existence.
The 'Church' today for so many is their weekly attendance in a building made of metal, glass and wood. Religious institutions and denominations compete with one another to see who can build the biggest and best architectural wonder investing thousands of dollars to achieve their goals. These temple's become the bait to lure leaders and pastors who choose this 'business' as a career. Many choose but few are called. Could this be the reason God's Church (his body) has become a social club that's powerless and ineffective in today’s world?
What is the true Church of God? Is it a once a week attendance in a building that provides all the creature comforts? What we call Church today reminds me of the Laodicea Church of old. " I know you well--you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other but since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth! "You say, 'I am rich, with everything I want; I don't need a thing!' And you don't realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." Rev. 3:15-17 Our Creator Father actually wanted to spew them out of His mouth because the taste had become so unbearable due to their back slidden, indifferent, sinful ways. Many born-again Christians fulfill their duty once a week and live the way they want the rest of the time void of His Word and daily prayer. They immerse themselves in the worlds affairs that distracts them from whats really important--their time with the Lord. "The seed among the thorns represents those who listen and believe God's words but whose faith afterwards is choked out by worry and riches and the responsibilities and pleasures of life. And they are never able to help anyone else to believe the Good News. " Luke 8:14
As born again Christians we have the privilege of walking right into the very Holy of Holies that only the priest of old were allowed to do on special occasions throughout the year. At the time of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross that curtain was torn to allow you and me the honor, like the priests, to come into the very presence of our Creator Father God. "And so dear brothers, now we may walk right into the very Holy of Holies where God is, because of the blood of Jesus. This is the fresh, new, life--giving way which Christ has opened up for us by tearing the curtain--his human body--to let us into the holy presence of God." Heb. 10:19,20
Through prayer we stand like Moses on Holy ground. Our attitude should be one of righteous fear and awe at this unspeakable privilege of spiritually standing before the King of Kings and Lord of all.
In God's word the true Church is you and me and all those who have the presence of Christ in their lives. "But Christ, God's faithful Son, is in complete charge of God's house. And we Christians are God's house--he lives in us! Heb. 3:6 Our physical bodies make up the 'temple' in which he resides. Through spiritual gifts he gives us at the time of salvation we build up His body to health and strength. " Why is it that he gives us these special abilities to do certain things best? It is that God's people will be equipped to do better work for him, building up the church, the body of Christ, to a position of strength and maturity; until finally we all believe alike about our salvation and about our Savior God's Son and all become full grown in the Lord--yes, to the point of being filled full with Christ." Eph. 4:12,13 When one part of the body hurts we all feel it. There's a bond and unity that keeps the church strong and productive. Sad to say, Satan has played a big part in splintering the body into many pieces (denominations) each having their own man made doctrinal interpretations that separate the Church body from one another. That bond and unity has been lost by these doctrinal differences and left the body weak.
God's children need to come into the understanding that they are God's temple on earth. " Haven't you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because he owns it. " I Cor. 6:19,20 Jesus glorified and immortal physical body is in Heaven but His Spirit returned to Earth under a new name called the Comforter so that he could be in thousands of others who would open the door to His presence. He was not limited anymore to a fleshly, human body but returned in Spirit (Holy Ghost) as the Comforter. "But I will send you the Comforter--the Holy Spirit, the source of all truth. v. 15:26. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads unto all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, for it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you do for he lives with you now and some day shall be in you. No, I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm--I will come to you. In just a little while I will be gone from this world, but I will still be present with you. For I will live again--and you will too. When I come back to life again, you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. " John 14:17-20. The Church is not the building we assemble in made of metal, glass and wood, it is the very spiritual body of Christ made up of all believers. We could meet in a gym, a barn, a park or home but those places we assemble in are not the 'Church'. They are just merely meeting places for the true Church of God, his body made up of born again believers.
Re-inventing God's Church into powerless rituals with leaders and shepherds who are in their position as a career choice or 'business' and preaching out of their elaborate ‘temples’ is an enormous waste of time, energy and money that could be directed into spreading the Good News of Salvation. I even heard a pastor comment "its a good racket to be in." Many of today’s 'Churches' will seldom ever receive God's blessings or approval as long as they are blind to the real meaning of God's Church. Born again Christians need to put the fear and awe for God back into their lives learning to know Him better through the daily reading of His Word, prayer and fellowship. Their lives must proclaim Jesus by the way they speak, live and treat others. We stand on Holy ground. "Most of all let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony. Let the peace of heart which comes from Christ be always present in your hearts and lives, for this is your responsibility and privilege as members of his body. And always be thankful. Remember what Christ taught and let his words enrich your lives and make you wise. Teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, and come with him into the presence of God the Father to give him your thanks. " Col. 3:16,17