I’m back, after an interlude that was much longer than I had anticipated. I can’t believe that the last time I posted was in August and it is now the end of October! I love the early Fall for it’s milder temperatures, lack of biting insects, quieter town streets, and of course the glorious colours of the changing leaves. However, Fall also comes with it’s challenges for me. I have some health issues which are negatively affected by the dropping temperature, the decrease in sunlight, and the grey, wet, windy days. My whole body aches and my brain feels permanently deprived of oxygen! Daily chores can be challenging enough, so I am not always good at dealing with extra curricular activities and I need a “little something extra” to get me going. That “little something” came yesterday in the form of a comment from one of my readers who said that she was looking forward to reading some new blog posts soon. So Linda, thanks for that little encouraging kick in the butt!
Today, was also my first day leading the women’s fellowship meeting at church. I love doing that sort of thing but I didn’t realize how nervous I was until the meeting was over and I could feel my legs trembling. I thank God that he chooses to use “the foolish things of this world” to further his purposes here on Earth, as I often feel “foolish”.
Today, our topic of discussion was “the Church”. We talked about the world’s view and our own personal understanding of what “church” is and what it’s function is, and compared it to what God says about His church.
I was not raised in a church attending family. My father is Roman Catholic and my mother attended Protestant churches as a girl. I think that my mother was concerned about us being “brain-washed” as children. My mother was, and is, a seeker of Truth and Knowledge and she wanted her children to intelligently explore and compare the various doctrines so that we could make our own, informed choice. She did lead by example in that she believed that there had to be a “Higher Power” who offered hope and a better way of life than the messy, destructive, and hopeless ways of this world.
Since I was a child, I have also been seeking “Truth” and my studies have taken me down a wide variety of Christian paths, in fact, I have been called a “church hopper”. In the course of my years, I have attended many different churches. Some were good and some were not. Some started out good and then took a wrong turn. Some were struggling but grew in God’s love and grace.
I wanted to be in a church where I was not only being “fed” spiritually, but where I was also cared about and valued and where I could minister with the gifts and talents that God has given me. For me, this was often easier said than done as I often felt like I was “a square peg trying to fit into a round hole”. I am definitely NOT a “cookie-cutter” Christian!
For many years, the concept of “church” took on a negative feeling for me. Church was a place where I was just to sit and listen and not question. It was a place that I was supposed to dress and act a certain way. Church was a place that I felt judged, inadequate, frustrated and often lonely. My life has been messy and complicated and I felt like everyone else at church had their lives all in order. I especially found it challenging being a woman, who really wanted to take an active role in leadership and ministering the Word of God, but who found that being a woman meant that I should be submissive, quiet, not speak in church and definitely NOT teach men. (That’s a topic for another blog!)
To me, and to many women whom God has brought into my life, church was a place where we thought we could be safe, loved (as is), encouraged and find healing and hope. Instead, many of us have been wounded by our experiences in church, which has left us with a bad taste in our mouths.
So, what is the problem? What , exactly, is “church’? What is it’s function? What should God’s church “look” like”?
I think that one of the first things, and maybe the most important thing , we should know and understand, is that “church” is NOT a building!! All over the world, mankind has built structures of every size, shape, and decor, from over the top grandiose to a simple shack. People have taken great pride in the wonderful churches “they” have made. What mankind has misunderstood, was that God does not want to build a church made of wood and stone. God wants a church built with flesh and blood and holy spirit. A church that is not built by our own abilities, but a church that is built upon a foundation of faith in what Jesus Christ, out of a heart of love, did for us.
The first usage (that I could find) of the word “church” in the King James Bible, is in the book of Matthew:
Mat 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
That word “church” was translated from the Greek word “ekklesia” whose root words basically mean “those who have been called out”. It can also mean a popular meeting. So basically, the word “church” means a meeting of people who have been called out.
So who makes up the church? People who have been called.
Who does the calling? God.
1Pe 5:10 But the God of all grace, He calling us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus
1Th 2:12 that you should walk worthy of God, who has called you to His kingdom and glory.
Who are the people who are called?
1Co 1:2 to the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called out with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.
The people who are “called” is anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
What did God call us “out” from?
1Pe 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for possession, so that you might speak of the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
God called us out of the darkness of sin.
So, according to God’s Word, a church is a gathering of people who have accepted God’s call to leave sin and darkness behind and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Seems simple, doesn’t it?
I will comment on the church’s function in the next blog post.
Blessings to you all.