Read His Words Before Ours!
Over the past week, we’ve studied how captivating a captivated life can be as we share the aroma of the gospel with families and friends. Today, we are taking a realistic look at our personal involvement in our local church body. But first, what exactly is the church? Differing opinions abound, but let’s carefully examine what Scripture teaches.
First, what is “the church?”
When most people in our culture refer to a “church,” we are referring to the literal church building or non-profit organization. This word “church,” as we most commonly use it, was likely derived from the Greek word “kuriakon,” which translates to “of the Lord,” or “belonging to the Lord.” This is important for a number of reasons, but perhaps most noteworthy because the word “kuriakon” is entirely missing from the New Testament, the text which expressly documents the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as the beginning and growth of the early church.
Listen, friends. It is never used in the text at all. Not even once. What we have accepted and widely adopted as the definition of local church is not, in fact, biblical.
In the original Greek text of the New Testament, the word “ecclesia” was used in reference to the early believers. The word “ecclesia” translates to “an assembly.” This is both fascinating and important; Scripture is telling us the church is not a faceless organization or building, rather an assembly of individual believers making up a whole body.
The church is not a place. Nor is it just one or two key people of faith. Scripture teaches the church is gathered assembly of people. A body of individual believers, each one possessing the same Holy Spirit, but each designed to fulfill a unique and wholly different purpose, working together to build up the church.
Loves, the difference here has precious little to do with our semantics
and everything to do with our heart posture.
We have defined the church by what it does for us and offers us,
while Scripture teaches us believers are called to BE the church.
So…how do we go about “being the church?”
Acts 2 describes the early believers as devoted to studying the Scriptures, to prayer, to fellowship and taking the Lord’s Supper together. All who chose Christ also chose to live together in unity and community. This was always the Lord’s design!
When someone was in need, the other believers cared for them, even selling their own belongings so they could fulfill the need. Early followers of Jesus “Christus” knew they were a city on a hill.
As they obeyed the Lord and loved others the Lord drew countless others and caught the world on fire with His love.
Does that spark something in your chest the way it does mine, Love?
Does it change the way you think about your church and the greater body of believers spanning the globe?
Does it make you feel like maybe we’ve been asking all the wrong questions?
What if… instead of asking how our church “feeds” us, we began realizing that, as believers, we are fed by the Word of God, AKA the Bible?
What if… instead of complaining about the lack of ____________, we started focusing on how we can build up other believers? Suppose we stepped out in faith and used our spiritual gifts to edify the church?
What if… instead of waiting for our church leaders to publicly ask us to serve, or donate, or give, or fill-in-your-blank, we just looked for opportunities and jumped in?
What if… instead of consoling a fellow believer in need and praying for provision, we went home and sold something we owned or re-arranged our budget so we could meet their immediate need?
And Love, what if we did all of these things joyfully, without reservation or pause? Would that be a community worth abandoning our self-imposed isolation for?
Would that be a community that would spark a lost world’s attention?
That’s all well and good, I hear you say.
But how am I supposed to do all of this when I’m treading water right now?
I’m barely keeping up with my everyday, let alone serving anywhere extra.
Sweet friend. I’ve been there, too.
Hear this: there is no condemnation here.
We can not earn our place with Jesus. If you have accepted Him as Savior, and surrendered your heart and life to Him, you belong. Nothing changes that.
At the same time, is it possible that in the busyness of this age, we have lost sight of what surrender to Jesus really means?
Is it possible that not walking in your Kingdom identity and purpose in church has spilled over into everyday life and relationships, thereby emphasizing the isolation you find yourself adrift in?
We would be lying if we tried to pretend like we’ve never been there.
I know I have.
And you are right. It is impossible to pour from an empty cup.
But dear one, personal experience and the Holy Spirit have taught me our cup will always become empty when it isn’t regularly refilled by the Word of God and the ministry of said Holy Spirit.
Love, do you feel a stirring?
The Lord is calling each of us to come to a full stop today, right this minute.
Find a quiet space. Cover your head with your apron. Put on your red hat.
Do whatever you need to do to get quiet in your spirit, regardless of the ruckus around you, and ask Jesus to help you make space to be in the Word daily, and to dive into prayer.
Ask Him to instill a hunger for Scripture, for His Presence, and for Holy Spirit.
Then, trust that He Who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it!
He will finish what He started, Sister! Rejoice and obey!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!