If your church were not there, would anybody miss it? If so, what would they miss about it?
When you go there, are you excited – thrilled, even – at the reflection of Jesus that you see in the face of others, and do they see that same reflection in you? Or do you talk about the weather, last Friday’s ball game, the new bull, or Uncle Andy’s gout – anything but the One Who built His body (ecclesia) upon the rock of Himself?
If church is about Jesus Christ, then what we do and say and feel there reflects what we think about Christ. If He’s first place in your life, he’ll be first at church for you … to the extent that church is really about Christ.
Where is a church that is actually like that – all about Jesus? Where can one go and actually see Jesus in the people there – in the spirit, the aura?
See, if the church and the ecclesia (the Body of Christ) were the same, none of that would be an issue: you ARE ecclesia because of your familial relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. You ARE the family of God; it’s not defined by someplace you go or something you do. If (and, again, to the extent that) He is the head, the whole body cannot function without His specific direction. But as church is focused on defining itself separately from the ecclesia, it becomes less and less about Christ.
Maybe you’re the sole holdout there who really IS focused on the Savior. What does that say then about your church? Is your church really a mission field and you’re the missionary? (If you know that, by the way, and you’re not doing anything about it, maybe your church is your Ninevah and you’re playing Jonah – running the other direction, away from your responsibility to warn them?)
Dallas Willard says, “The Gospel is less about how to get into the Kingdom of Heaven after you die, and more about how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven before you die.” So why does church sell the idea that the Gospel is just about walking down an aisle, making a decision to “receive Christ,” getting baptized and joining the church? To do what? “Hey, I’m going to heaven when I die! Yipee!” No, there’s SO MUCH MORE for us!
Church should teach the Gospel of Kingdom living as part of modeling Jesus, the King of kings. That means teaching God’s perspective on ALL areas of life, not just that which is traditionally regarded as “religious,” never losing sight of the One Who loved us so much that He came to die for us to redeem our souls out of the clutches of the evil one. We are not just saved to go to heaven someday when we die. If we were, what would be the point of our being left here on earth? Why would God not just translate us straight to heaven after we are born again? No, He told us to occupy ‘til He comes, and “occupy” is a military term! So many churchians miss out on understanding that life BEGINS for us when we are born again! Look at the apostle Paul: when he saw the light on the Damascus road and was converted, his life started over. It was a totally different life, and it was the life that he lived from that point forward that formed the basis for the “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” that was his welcome to heaven. We can all thank God that Paul was kept on earth to learn, to grow and to teach us all about Christ!
Is there light in your church? Is it a beacon of light to the community and the world? It will be if the Son of God, Jesus Christ, reigns there. Revelation 22:5 tells us that there will be no need for the sun in heaven, for the Son is the light there! John 1:4 says that “In Him (Jesus Christ, the Word of God) was life; and the life was the light of men.” Is He the light where you are? He will be if He’s in charge. The light brings life! Churches apart from Him are dead and dying; where His ecclesia, His body, are vibrant, that life can make even the dry bones of a dead church rise up and dance!
A church looking for a new pastor prays for the “right man” to come along … why? Because, they say, so much of the direction of the church for the next few years will fall on him. No! Jesus Christ is the head of the ecclesia, and if the church is going to consider itself the Body of Christ, its head is Jesus, not some man!
Again, the difference between church and ecclesia is clear: ecclesia IS Christ – His body – while church tries to take ecclesia and put us – the Body of Christ – in a box while creating some leadership structure of men to push aside Christ as our Head.
See what difference words make? When the translators took “ecclesia,” which means a government, and replaced it with “church,” which means something religious, they eliminated the vast majority of the meaning of the Body of Christ. But to the extent that there is ecclesia still in church, the church is redeemable. But only by the ecclesia being ecclesia, not by the ecclesia being church.