The purpose of the Church in a nutshell …
There’s nothing wrong with words and ideas, but where are the Christians who are visibly doing the stuff?
Well, it may surprise you to know that God’s view of Church is not necessarily our view. The actual Greek word that is translated as “church” in the New Testament is ekklesia and it actually means “called out ones”. The Church is actually you and me, not the building in which we meet. This idea of “church-as-building” originated in the 4th Century when Christianity became the State Religion of the Roman Empire and the emperor needed a way to control the people.
So they constructed these buildings, based on a proven model used for civic assemblies, called them “churches” and proclaimed that you can only be saved inside these buildings, you had to regularly attend meetings inside these buildings if you wanted to be a Christian. It was all about control and the common person knew no better as they couldn’t read, no-one had a Bible and, even if they could read, the Scriptures weren’t in a language that anyone could understand anyway (they were in Latin, the language of the clergy)!
Today it is different in that we can read our Bibles, yet many of us don’t realise that “being Church” is nothing to do with what we do inside those buildings any more, whether they are of the ancient crumbling variety, or sports halls, or people’s homes. We are the Church. Remember this, it is important.
Let me repeat what I said earlier, when we looked at those characters who lived through Bible times. God tends to overlook the big shots.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
I believe that God is preparing an army of Cinderellas, not the dread army of champions led by “God’s Generals”, or Joel’s triumphant army of righteous locusts (as some believe themselves to be), but the scattered remnant of broken, redeemed and selfless people that God is able to use for His purposes because they haven’t requisitioned Him for their purposes. There is only room for one Kingdom in the economy of God.
For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
If you conduct a straw poll in the streets to find who are considered the most visible Christians in our society, you would draw a blank and will be fobbed off with the Archbishops and Bishops of the land, none of whom they could personally name. A generation or two ago there were richer pickings with the likes of C.S. Lewis and Malcolm Muggeridge, but today … who knows? What does this tell us? It tells us that we are certainly not living in a Christian society, however you may define it. People can reel off names of scientists, politicians, actors, writers … even celebrity cooks. But Christians? No idea.
If you conducted the same poll with Christians you would probably be furnished with a list of popular writers, speakers, worship leaders and songwriters. There is a theme here, have you noticed it? Christians who are prominent these days in our Christian subculture are those who have become well-known for what they say … not necessarily what they do. It’s all about words, ideas, thoughts, theology, doctrine … even political opinions, social commentary, theological debate.
It’s all just …. so Greek!
There’s nothing wrong with words and ideas, but where are the Christians who are visibly doing the stuff? The reason why non-Christians are not able to name any of us is because mostly what we are known for these days is for what we say (usually moaning about something, or being negative), not what we do. And the World has enough opinionated people talking for a living, we are bombarded daily with this stuff.
For the previous article in this series, click here.
For the next article in this series, click here.
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You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.