Jesus said, “wherever two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in their midst” (Matt 18:20). In the beginning, the disciples of Jesus met at public places, in the market place, at synagogues and at the Temple. Many met to fellowship at the homes of other believers or simply lived together. Even though the Church was one, at this earliest period, they didn’t always meet together at the same time or place, but they were in continual fellowship with each other.
The concept of going to Church, was as foreign to them as perhaps the concept of a refrigerator. In those days, when they prayed for their daily bread – they were usually asking for their daily bread! They lived on a day to day dependency with God. But with the advancement of technology, our needs, our wants and our habits have changed. Going to a Church building became necessary, when it became easier to live apart than to live together. In a similar way, refrigerators became necessary when it became cheaper and more convenient to purchase and store food.
I think also their services were much different to our services today! When they met together, they came ready to hear from everyone, as the Spirit led them all to minister. Some to prophesy, some to teach, some to speak in tongues, and some to interpret. It wasn’t anything like the way Church is today, where a singular minister shares a word to a congregation of hearers…who may or may not hear God themselves, and who may or may not do what He says! If a member of the congregation was to arise and start to prophesy, today, it is quite likely they will be thrown out of the Church rather than listened to.
In moving with the times, I think it is important for us to recognise how our fellowship as an international Body of Christ is changing. There is no Church that is the one true Church anymore. No, not even your Church. And I do believe that in every Church, even the ones that disagree with you, who hold strange theological views…there are true worshipers of God there! God is not looking for a people to worship Him with theological accuracy, or even legal precision, but in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23-24). Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness!
Some may want you to think that your salvation is in danger when you stop going to a fellowship, but if the Spirit of God has already left, I would consider that a wise decision! We should not be careless about forsaking the church assembly (Heb 10:25), as Paul taught us…to persevere in loving one another, and encouraging each other in the Faith. However, it is also written “come out from among them, and be ye separate“(2 Cor 6:17). Yes, this is talking about unbelievers. I also think it applies to an apostate Church (for a lack of a better word). We know that in the last days, many will not put up with sound doctrine, but will gather teachers to tell them what they want to hear (2 Tim 4:3-4). Unfortunately, many churches are built on the backs of rebellion against God’s truth!
As I am writing this now, I do not belong to any visible Church, but I lay claim to my membership in the invisible Body of Christ. I continue to attend church, desiring fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. However, I am rarely nourished by the word spoken in church, or by my interactions with other believers there. I am usually among those who find the nearest exit, so I can leave, without much traffic and return to my more comfortable home. I have tried to linger longer to catch up with people, but one of the things I hate is superficial conversations. When someone asks “how are you?” but you can tell they just want you to say you’re okay, so they can move on…
I long for genuine fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I long to be where they are talking about deep spiritual truths, where they are growing in truth, love and understanding, where the Spirit of God is moving! In coming to terms with the fact that I won’t find that in any visible church, and knowing that God doesn’t intend for me to starve for lack of spiritual nourishment in a church, just to fulfill all righteousness, I’ve come to change my mind about Church!
I woke up today and realised that I had it all wrong! I am in Church EVERYDAY, and I didn’t even realise!!! Everyday, I wake up to my WordPress (an inspired name I think) Reader, and I receive messages from all over the world, from other Believers, who are inspired every day and minute to talk about God and His goodness, and to draw all men close to Him. This is my Church!!! It is invisible, but one thing I know is that the Spirit is moving here. There is deep fellowship. People write about their challenges and share their lessons, without fear of judgement. And what is more…people are growing, and not only growing…they are growing in unity here!
A while back, I stopped reading devotionals, because I realised that I read so many devotionals every single day on my WordPress Reader. And most times, when I have something to share, I spend time reading my Bible or the Spirit reminds me of many scriptures that relate to what I am sharing…and it is like I have a Bible Study everyday. I live in this place, I long to return to it every hour. This for me, is like the technology that has taken the concept of going to Church to the next level! I am in Church everyday and I want to be in Church everyday. I can’t get enough!
Now, the visible Churches are still very important, and I will not speak bad about any one. It’s like the physical printed Bibles…many are gathering dust in the shelves, while the Bible in our phones and on the Internet are receiving high traffic. But, I still like to pick up my hard copy Bible and read it now and then.
Many people use the visible Church to reach out to the lost, by inviting them to Church on Sunday. However, I have what I believe is a better idea. Why not invite them to lunch? And invite your Christian friend too for support. And take your Bible! You were inviting them to Church to hear a sermon, but maybe God has a sermon He wants you to share with this unbeliever. I didn’t come to Christ in Church. I don’t know how many genuine people do.
I was taught the Word, not preached at. I remember that we were at a fast food restaurant, when they opened the scriptures to me, and I couldn’t deny the truth. Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not to build churches! We need to go back to that, because often we invite people to church thinking they will hear the word and answer the alter call, when too often, the word is not for them or too beyond their understanding, and they are lost in it. There’s really just one chance to make a good impression, so we should take those rare opportunities, when they come to evangelise people the right way!
If the person genuinely receives Christ, please remember that whether or not they make it to your Church on Sunday, they have joined the Body of Christ. Follow up with them, and help them to settle in fellowship with other believers. And if someone is no longer going to your Church, who was usually faithful, reach out to them in love, and ask to meet them outside Church. They will appreciate that you made the effort. Like the Bible says, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8).
If it was the Church’s sin that caused them to leave, they may yet return to see how they can make a difference. If it is their sin, your love and acceptance will help them to see that Christ’s Spirit is still in your Church. You are, afterall, His representative. If we all act like the representatives of Christ that we are, the visible Church will once again be filled with true believers, who worship the Father in unity, in Spirit and in Truth!
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor 13:15).
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Act 17:24).
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19)
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