Thursday, June 05, 2008


More thoughts on The Church in America
by Keith Giles

God has been speaking to me a lot lately about what Church is, how we're designed by Him to function and thrive, and what "being the Church" is really all about.

A good friend of mine told me the other day, "I hate church." I can totally understand what he means by that; that he hates the way people operate in church, and that he's frustrated by the mentality of some people who are confused about what church is, etc.

I've said these words myself a few times in my life. Whenever I see pastors manipulating their flocks, or when I hear christians argue about what to do with the money they gave as an offering to God, or when I see people twist the ideas of "Service", "Worship" and "Faith", I also feel angry and have been tempted to say, "I hate church."

But, I've been very encouraged to consider the words of A. W. Tozer on this subject when he reminds us that we are not speaking of some anonymous organization "out there" whenever we speak of "the Church". Instead, we are speaking about a living organism we are inextricably connected to for Eternity. We ARE the Church. So, while we may hate certain aspects of how our brothers and sisters operate, or how people act within the Body, we are still speaking of something that we are part of.

Tozer's quote says:
"We must not think of the Church as an anonymous body, a mystical religious abstraction. We Christians are the Church and whatever we do is what the Church is doing. The matter, therefore, is a personal one. Any step forward in the Church must begin with the individual." (From The Knowledge Of The Holy, pg.114.)

We are the Church. The only Church the world will ever know. The only Church there will ever be.

So, now, let’s go and be the church we dream of. If we want the Church to be more loving we must become more loving. If we want the Church to be more understanding and patient, we must become more understanding and patient.

I was reading 1 Peter chapter 2 the other day and I saw some things I never saw before in verses 4 and 5:

"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

If you remove the little coda in verse 4, which is meant as an aside to further explore in what way Jesus is the living stone, and read it without that little insertion it reads like this:

"As you come to him, the living Stone, also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood...."

So, as we come to Jesus we are built up to become the people, and the Church, He is building.

Notice, God is the one doing the building. He's accomplishing that as He builds us up into the people He wants us to be. (Note: He wants us to be a people who are a holy priesthood).

I know it can seem very simplistic to consider this, but all we have to do is to come to Jesus and allow Him (by the power of His Holy Spirit) to build us up into the people He has called and designed and intended for us to be.

Church = God + the People of God

That's it.

We've gotten into the bad habit of thinking that Church equals a paid professional clergyman, and a building that must be paid for and maintained, and a strategy to attract people to fill the seats, etc. But none of that is in the New Testament. It's not how Jesus modelled Church for us. It's not how the Disciples and the Apostles went about planting and growing Churches for nearly 400 years.

We have to stop trying to build the Church and start being the Church.

Let Him build His Church. Be the Church and the people He has called you to be.

Much more on this subject later..


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