Has there ever been a term or word so misunderstood? Perhaps not. We think we know what it means, but do we? I’d say more than perhaps not.
As a good little boy in a good little family my understanding of church was a place that we went to on Sundays or Wednesdays, and also the event that took place there.
Later, I began to have an intellectual understanding that church was somehow bigger than that, that it had something to do with “the people more than the place.”
But when I really started following Jesus several years ago, I found freedom in asking questions of Him – questions that previously I thought were not supposed to be asked, but that I found Him more than willing to entertain from me… and answer. One of those questions was “What is church?”
So I went to school with Jesus, and to my shock the Lord asked me to quit going to church – to take a break, and follow Him. While the pupil sat before the Teacher – walls came down, paradigms were shifted, the mind was blown – and the pupil was wrecked. But wrecked in an oh-so-good kind of way. Like a killer leg workout wrecked. It hurts, you are walking real funny, but you know there is growth there.
What He has shown me is that church, cannot be contained in the definitions and contexts of anything I was ever taught it to be, or anything I had seen in practice. Centuries of improper translations and misunderstanding, layered with pagan practices and cultural traditions, topped off with the pride of man – has both watered down and boxed in church – to the point where the Lord has been hindered by it’s predominant form, and it’s common understanding and expression.
The truth is, church is one of those things that just refuses to be fully defined.
It is like Love in that way. Paul devotes an entire chapter in 1 Corinthians to Love and It’s characteristics – and barely scratches the surface. Love is God. God is Love. God is Jesus. Jesus is Love. Jesus is unsearchable in His riches, and His depths cannot be plumbed. Love cannot be fully defined, because it is just. too. big.
It is like Life in that way. We all have a life, and we are all unique. There has never been 2 lives ever created that were the same. Never. Further, Jesus tells us that He is in us, and we are in Him. His Life is what flows through us, and that we can choose to Live by and express. Jesus is Life. Jesus is unsearchable in His riches, and His depths cannot be plumbed. Life cannot be fully defined, because it is just. too. big.
Love – Life – Jesus — Church.
THE Church is the Bride of Christ. To be a follower of Jesus is to be One with Him. Just as a man is One with his bride, so too is the Bride One with her Groom, Jesus. If you are in Christ, you are in the Bride of Christ. You are beautiful. You are gorgeous. There is nothing in the earth or heavenlies with more beauty than the Bride reflecting the Love of Her Husband. To know this and to Live this is to know Him, and the Eternal Purpose of God.
In this way Church is something you are. It is someONE you are.
But Church is additionally something, someONE to Be. Being is more than doing. Your Be-ing comes from your knowing who and what you are. When you understand the Love that Lives within – your identity – allowing that Love to express Himself through you moves you into Be-ing – your purpose, His Purpose.
This Be-ing and Purpose just cannot be held by walls or a Sunday service in a building of gathered people. Grasping a glimpse of this Be-ing is combustible, transformational. It is risky – yet the safest place you can be. It is organic and flowing, never routine or stagnant. It is never dictated by a clock or a calendar – but instead is continual and spontaneous. It is messy, but beautiful. It is exhausting, but energizing. It is hazy, yet clear. Death is It’s prerequisite – and Life is it’s reward.
It is Life. It is Love…
…It is Jesus.
With that kind of non-definition, how can you know when you are seeing, Living, Be-ing… Church? Well, like when you just know you’re Living Life, when you just know you’re in Love, when you just know Jesus – you can just know Church. Knowing Church as the universal Body and Bride of Jesus throughout the earth, for one. And then two, having eyes to see that Church Live and Love and express Her Husband into the earth.
When 2 or more people with the Spirit of God in them come together:
- With no human leader or human agenda – submitted to The Leader, to express the Headship of Jesus Christ
- To follow His Lead in the edification and encouragement of each person, by each person, one to another
- To know Him more through His Life in every person
- To express that Life by the gathered Body into the earth
- Grounded in the Divine Fellowship of the Triune God
- To fulfill the Ultimate Intention and Mission
You, friend, are seeing, Living, and Be-ing Church.
It is the most unstoppable force in the universe and beyond, and the Lord is shaking the ground under the feet of It’s limited and common understanding and practice. Let us have our eyes opened to see. Let us Live. Let us Love. Let Jesus’ Kingdom come, His will be done.
Let us… Church.
What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? What would you add? How have you understood and practiced church? What do you hear the Lord saying about Church today?