Summary: We can't be the church as individuals, yet in the American church today many have the mentality of being lone rangers. If we are going to be the church that God intended we must be committed to the church and to each other.
Living As The Church
INTRO: Have you ever read the Gospels and looked for the church? If you haven’t you should try it sometime. But I can tell you that you will not find much about church in the Gospels. Mark, Luke, and John don’t even mention the church and the word church is only in 2 verses in the book of Matthew and only 3 times is the word “Church” mentioned in those verses.
What does the Gospels tell you about church? Well, literally it doesn’t tell you much. Nothing about what you should do as a church (as we typically think about the church today.) Nothing about when we should meet as a church, what we should do when the church meets, nothing even saying that the church is to meet at all.
Now we know that the church should meeting Heb. 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We know that the church met later on in the first century, but when Christ walked the earth we don’t see church. Like I said the word church is written only 3 times in 2 verses in all of the Gospels. So if someone was going to find out about what the church should do (as we think of the church today), one might say, “don’t look in the Gospels because it’s not there.”
However that is far beyond the truth because in the Gospels we see the church all over. The church is found in quiet secluded places so it could spend time with God, praying and giving itself to Him completely. The church is found teaching and preaching all over the countrysides of Judea, Galilee, and even in Samaria. The church is found hanging around the popular places where there are a lot of people so that the church can influence those around it. The church is eating and drinking with sinners, even being called a gluten and drunkard.
If you look in the Gospels for the church it has no walls, the church is not sitting in one place saying come to me and only if you come to me will I seek to help you in any way. The church isn’t having countless business meeting that drain the church of all its energy and desire to do God’s will in the world.
I’m sure you got it by now that the reason we see the church doing all of these things in the Gospels is because the church is the body of Christ. It was the will of Christ that drug His body around to all of those places to do all of those things. In the days of Jesus the church was radical and persecuted because of being radical and the church turned the world upside down.
If that is what the church was in the first century why isn’t the church that way today? Why does the church seldom make an impact in the community around the church? I would suggest it is because the church is not doing the will and call of Christ in our world today as Jesus meant or called it to do.
In our country today the church is trapped inside brick and mortar and it dares not go out into the popular places or to eat and drink with sinners. It dares not tell of it commitment to Christ outside its wall for fear of persecution and the persecution that is feared is not even physical persecution that is feared. The persecution that is feared is not being popular in the world and that it might be made fun of or of being rejected by the world. And because of the church’s fear of what the world might say about it, the church has said I’m just going to be the church inside walls of brick and mortar. I’ll talk about God freely when I’m inside these walls of protection, I’ll sing glorious songs to God inside these walls, I’ll give my heart out in prayer inside these walls. But outside these walls the world cannot tell the difference between the church and itself.
I know that is stereotyping the whole church, but that is what the church has become in general. And this church folks is not beyond the stereotypical church.
The church has become individualistic where only certain individuals are taking up their cross and following Jesus while so many other Christians have conformed to corporate consumeristic model of the American church today. It’s great that some take up the cross of Christ daily and follow Him, but following Christ all by ourselves in not what we are called to do as the church.