Summary: When Jesus said He would build His church did He have in mind putting on a Sunday service or did He have in mind His people coming together in authentic relationship with each other? Is the church today doing what He intended. Not so sure we are.
The Jesus Gathering
INTRO: The church. That can mean a lot of different things today. It can mean the building in which we come to on Sunday mornings. It can mean the institution of the church. It can speak of a denomination. The Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and so on and so on.
In actuality when most people today think of the church the thought that comes to their mind, the picture that comes to their mind is that of a building. After all that is what it has been portrayed as by Christian’s so for long now.
I’m as guilty of that as anyone else. When someone calls and asked directions to come here I often say, “Go to TA Truck Stop and follow the outer road about 1 mile to McVey St. turn left and you can’t miss the “church” on the right side of the road, the “church” is right by the little red house.”
When you got up this morning and you were getting ready to come here, you were getting ready to come to church. Your thoughts could have been I’m going to 1460 McVey St. to church. They could have been I’m going to go and be involved in a worship service with other believers. I’m going to go sing some songs, take communion, give to the offering, hear some preaching, say amen to a prayer and then go home. And once you’ve done all of that, you’ve been to church.
Church is so often thought of as a building or a service that is attended or a destination.
Let me ask a question this morning. Is that what Jesus intended when He was speaking to his disciples in Mathew chapter 16?
Read Text Mt. 16:13-20
The verse that I want to key in on this morning is verse 18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates Hades will not overcome it.” Mt. 16:18
Peter just confessed that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God and then He says that it is on the rock of Peter’s confession that Jesus will build His church.
The church has always intrigued me and what I mean by that is it has always sparked deep thinking into what the church is supposed to do, what it is supposed to be, and who is the church for?
ILLUS; I remember my first exposure to any sort of church leadership. It was a Richmond Christian Chapel, the church that I’ve told you about, have asked you to pray for in the past. It was when I was in Bible College back in 1987. I had never been part of setting up and doing a church service. My first thoughts of doing a church service was that it was like putting on a show.
You had to make sure all the programs were done correctly, that they instructed or guided the people what the next event or scene would be. You had to make sure the everything was in the right place, so at the right time, the right people would have what they needed to preform the next scene. You had to make sure the sound was right, the lights were right. When you got up to speak you had to make sure you spoke loudly enough so the person on the back row with bad hearing to could hear you. (I’ve never understood that by the way, why did the person with bad hear sit on the back row, though it seems to be common practice.)
I remember commenting to the preaching and his wife, it’s like we are putting on a show. They said, yes that is what it is like. It was weird to me then because I never thought of church that way.
But attend almost any church service today and that is what you get, a show, a performance, everything in its right place so at the right time the right person can put on the next scene.
And I have to ask. Is the church in which we see and are a part of today, the church that Jesus intended when He said I will build my church?
I can’t help but say, no, I don’t think so.
Did you know that Mt. 16:18 is the first time the word “church” is recording in the Bible? Did you know that the word Jesus used was not “church”. Now you could say, well of course not, when He said it wasn’t in English. Well did you know that the word Jesus used did not have the same meaning as the word “church”?
Words and meanings make a difference. Church to us and the world today has the mean of a building or a service as I have noted. But the word Jesus used ekklēsia means “gathering.” And the word was not was not a religious term. The word was used to gather people together for civic purposes.