Where do you go to church?
I am often asked this question, and honestly lately, it's been setting my mind a twitter...
Really, what's being asked is "where do you go, to be who you ARE?"
Most people who've spent any amount of time as a follower of Christ understand this principle. We are taught that we are the church. When we become a follower, we become part of a body (Eph 5; 30) where Christ is the head and we make up the rest of the parts, working together to minister to the world... we are a body, a group of people, a FAMILY, all children, brothers and sisters. We are meant to be ONE. Over and over and over again in the New Testament, the body aka the church is encouraged, almost commanded to "be on one mind, one spirit, have the same love..."...there is ONE body, and ONE spirit, just as you were called in ONE hope of your calling; ONe Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism; ONE God and Father of all, who is above all, and through and in you all." (Eph 4:4)
So we come back to the question... Where do you go to church?
Socially and culturally it refers to the smaller group of people you choose to meet with weekly in a building to celebrate, to worship Christ. I so long to answer..."it's irrelevant."
But it's not. Nowadays, today, where you meet is of utmost importance. How you answer will determine (in some minds) how you believe - that is what factions of doctrine you hold yourself to. How you answer will imply the outward expression of your faith or the "passion" you have or don't have. It will let people know your morality, your social standing, your dedication to family, etc. etc. etc. Of course we know this can't REALLY tell us these things because no one really knows what is in a heart, except God that is. I wonder if many of us find a sort of peace in being able to hide behind the group we belong to, rather than BE, who we are in our world.
In doing this, we rob ourselves of our true place, our true identity as members of the body, the world-wide body of Christ. When we are aware of our place in the greater picture, when we know our authority and our responsibility. It changes everything.
We are meant to work together, all together, to encourage, bless, lift up, mourn with, rejoice with, grow with and worship and celebrate with - without limits. Without limits of time, space, geography, social standing, culture, language, age or gender.
If only we would have our eyes opened to see how deep, wide, high and vast the great Love of God is... that love that's been poured into our hearts.
Our hearts are meant to be poured out in our world, as Jesus was. We are meant to love each other IN the body, so as a body, we can love the world. God hasn't changed, and He loves the world so much, that He...gives.
Don't you think that so much of church as we know it today, is about Taking. I mean really, we just want to celebrate together, be encouraged, and then be left to do our own thing. Churches have become programs, mortgages, the big show, employment opportunities, places for hospices from the world.... when really, its just supposed to be a simple celebration, an opportunity to share the joy of the LIFE that we live every other day - with Christ and with each other, as light and salt in the world.
I'm beginning to think that the best way for me to personally answer the "where do you go to church" question is...
I don't go to church, I AM the church. I am part of the body, and wherever I go, the rest of us are. I hope that my life is a demonstration of God's love for you today, how can I serve You today?
If you want to know what group of people, or what building I'll be celebrating in soon...well it's like this, just like in my earthly life, the where, the how and the scope of what I celebrate changes - it does in my spiritual life too. My worship is all the time, every day, because I'm a follower of Christ. My celebration oppourtunities are vast, there are hundreds of places where members of this body can be found, maybe it will be a big group, maybe it will be a small one, maybe I'll be able to speak the language, maybe I won't...it doesn't matter. We are numerous, we are the body, the body of Christ. We are the church.
I found the following applicable, (from this blog)
Acts 2:42-47 – 42. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46. And day by day,attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47. praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lordadded to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The expositional part of this blog post is over, if you want to read about my personal encounters with this truth, keep reading, if not. Be blessed.
Yes, WE are the church. It was never meant to have limits. I've experienced this way to much over the last 17 years, and I've been so blind.
God is not limited by the things we are limited by. He is not limited by time, space, geography, social standing, culture, language, age or gender.
While visiting India in 1998, I had the joy of celebrating Jesus with hundreds of believers in worship, and then again in smaller gatherings over two weeks. I could not speak the language, but there was no limits with God. Souls met their creator, bodies were healed, I rejoiced with a precious part of the body of the Christ, and we were ONE.
When I was travelling Canada in the year 2001, my husband and I had recently experienced our first of two miscarriages, after 3 years of brutal battles with infertility. I happened to be travelling in Eastern Canada on the day when I would have been due with my daughter, it also coincided, painfully, with Mothers day. God used a group of women I had never met to minister to my broken heart in ways that are unspeakable. I do not remember their names, but I remember the Love of God poured out to me.
In 2003 I traveled to visit my sister in France, we decided to attend a celebration service there in a village outside of Rouen, near the Northern coast. It was undoubtedly one of the most wonderful times of fellowship I have experienced with believers to this day. We shared a meal, the word, and life. It was beautiful truly.
there are countless other memories to add to this that span from North America to the South, across oceans to the Pacific Rim and back again.
As my eyes continue to be opened, I'm aware of this truth more and more. I recently had the privilege of visiting with friends and also followers of Christ in South Carolina - I joined them where they celebrate Christ each week, and it was powerful and timely to me, the sharing of the word, the fellowship all weekend long, the prayer time, rejoicing and mourning together. A couple weeks later we had friends and followers stay with us for a holiday, and again, precious fellowship, open hearts, honest prayers. Last week a family crisis rose up, and it was incredible, thanks to the power of the world wide web, to alert the believers I've come to know, love and value - to pray, to have the burden shared by the WHOLE body, from my limited perspective, and again to share in that burden for others when I've been made aware of a need.
I'm not sure who all reads this, but today I want to send a shout out to a friend in Europe. Once I was told that you Lindsay (in Croatia, yes you) read this from time to time - last week I saw your facebook status, and my heart was touched, and I lifted you up in prayer. We are the body, we are sisters and I hurt for you, I felt it. Be encouraged that you are part of something that is much bigger than you alone, something that is strong when you feel weak, wise when you are uncertain, and full of hope and peace when you are despairing - you are part of the body of Christ. We are Unlimited.
My love and affection to all of you reading this who are followers of Christ, may it not cause offense but hopefully inspire us to BE. To those who perchance who have read all this way, and do not follow Christ, thank you. Please leave a message or comment if you have questions, want to know more, or wonder what it means to be a follower of Christ, and I'd love to connect further with you.