By Pastor Jeff,
When I say the word “church”, do you think of the building or the people?
I’m not claiming the building as being something that should be ignored, we know the early church did meet in buildings, Acts 2:46-47, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” The Apostle Paul also met in synagogues to preach Jesus, Acts 13:5, “And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.” and 13:14-15,”But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” The first building that we know of that was built or used for the express purpose for holding Christian services is found in Syria called Dura-europis, the first one in Israel was from the late 3rd century called the Meggido. Interestingly the early churches only carried the name of the city or town that it resided in, not fancy names as some of the church buildings of today.
But as we look at some of Paul’s writings, I think we can notice one important fact, 1Corinthians 16:19, “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” Romans 16:5, “Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.” Did you notice? the church was in the house! the church was not the house! The church is far more than the building we gather together in, we are the church that gather together in the building.
There is a danger of looking at the building as the church, one is that it can easily become just a check list, you make your weekly visit to the church building and that’s it, the rest of your week is yours to do as you please! It also diminishes the power that the church really has, for we do our praying, worshipping, bible reading, and so on at the building. Matthew 16:18-19, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” If you have the Holy Spirit residing in you, the power is in you not the building.
The message of Jesus Christ should never be restricted to a building, we are to carry the message of the cross wherever we are. So are You going to Church or Are YOU the Church?
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