With the latest message series at 707, Taking Back the Church, I’ve been reevaluating a lot of what I’ve been used to believe or think about the Church, this ekklesia for Jesus Christ. If the Church is not a building, not a service, not a place; if the truth is that each and every one of my brothers and sisters in Christ and myself are the Church, this is in radical contrast to what the vast majority of American Christendom seems to have pushed for quite a number of years.
If the truth is the church is less of a place and more of a people who are defined by their worship of Jesus Christ as God, this is significant and should change the way we talk about the Church. Furthermore, if the Church is less about me and more about us, this means we have been going about this Church thing all wrong. Instead of looking merely for how we can be served (think of the term “church shopping” and it conjures images along this line), we ought to be seeking out areas of need where we can minister and serve in love as each is called.
Even a cursory look at Acts 2 and 4 show a glimpse of a body of people who, at least to me, look very different from what the Church of today has become. If we are going to take back the Church, it is going to require nothing short of a revolution to accomplish this. The Church should be known not by their thou shalt and thou shalt not legalism, but by their love, mercy, forgiveness, and service for each other and indeed most especially for those outside the Church. If the Church of Jesus Christ gets out of the me-first mentality and starts practicing what Jesus actually preached, namely, selfless service to others, even those who have wronged you or do presently wrong you (Jesus washed Judas’ feet in full knowledge of what was on Judas’ heart at the time and the coming betrayal), then I believe we will see the Kingdom of Heaven make an astounding impact on the lives of men and women in communities, states, and nations the world round. And it starts with you and me friend. If we are not serving those around us, we are not following Christ’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus answered the lawyer’s question of “Who is my neighbor?” with a better question: “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” The reply was obvious: the one who showed mercy toward the man who had been robbed. Jesus’ next words were short, but profound. “Go and do the same.” Rather than asking “who is my neighbor?” let us together, friends, posit this to ourselves: am I being a good neighbor? Am I showing mercy to all who cross my path? Am I being a minister of reconciliation and love, looking at people for what they could become with Christ? Or am I looking at what they are now, seeing their sin, judging them as being unworthy of mercy, grace, and forgiveness? How thankful we ought to be that God is not like this! Friends, we deserve no more mercy or forgiveness for our sins than the vilest of criminals to ever tred this sod. God is merciful to us and because he loved the world, he gave. Friends, we ought to give mercy and love to all because God has given the same to us, the equally undeserving.