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When you hear the word church, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? A building, people, Sunday School, singing, meeting, pot lucks, coffee bar, donuts, family, Word of God. Any of these sound familiar? What else??
After many years of being a part of a church, I’ve observed four different groups of people and their outlook on church.
The Nay-Sayers: They have no concept of what church is. They have not been exposed to the possibility and have been taught that it’s not worth their time. They think church is a crutch. They want nothing to do with it and are not shy about sharing their opinion. Their mind is set and only a miracle will change it.
The “I’m taking my ball and going somewhere else to play!” people. You can not have a relationship, at any level, and not get your feelings hurt or you hurt someone else’s feelings. It’s inevitable. I do not set out to hurt someone’s feelings. Unfortunately, I say or do something that touches a nerve and hurt someone that I had no intention of hurting. Instead of showing grace and forgiveness, a grudge is formed, bitterness sets in and anger takes over. The “solution” has been to leave and go find another church to attend. Sometimes this is needed. Sometimes you leave and go to another church and take your grudge with you. Not a good idea!
The Status Quo: people attend church because it’s their routine, ritual. Growing up we knew that every Sunday morning and evening we were going to church. We weren’t forced in a negative way. It’s just what we did. It was part of our family’s routine. The dangerous part of this group is your heart status as the years progress. It’s very easy to get into a routine that turns into a rut when growth is stagnant. It becomes “rinse and repeat.” Your spiritual journey has plateaued and a deeper understanding and relationship with Christ is lacking. It might be time to do something about that!
All in: people who are sold out for Christ. They desire, yearn, and can’t get enough of Jesus. Their communication with Christ is ongoing and seeks out a deeper understanding of who Christ is and who He is to them. They want to “be” the church, not show up to a building and listen to a preacher. Their strongest desire is to know Christ and be a living example of Him.
Where do you see yourself? Maybe you can relate to all the groups. Maybe you’re stuck in one of the groups and you would like to move closer to Christ.
If I’m honest with myself, I’ve camped out in the “Status Quo” group. God has touched my heart through life circumstances and has nudged me into the “All in” group. I can honestly say that when I grow up I want to be like Jesus. I will not perfect the feat on this side of Heaven, but it is my goal everyday to live for and like Christ. I want to know Him more everyday. He already knows everything about me. He uniquely created me to be His for all time. My hope is to know Him more everyday by learning about His true character and how I can be an example of His essence.
Jesus does lead and strengthen our relationship one on one. We also grow within a family of believers. We need one another. We were created to build each other up and hold each other accountable. We can’t do that alone. We are the body of Christ together.
If you think church is just about the building, well, you’re wrong. (Said in love.) The church is not the building at all. WE are the church. His children, beloved, believers, brothers and sisters in Christ. WE are the church.
A couple of weeks ago I read 1 Peter 2:5. It states that we are His living stones that He is using to build His Spiritual Temple. My mind has a tendency to think literally before thinking figuratively. When I read the word stone, I thought of hard, cold and heavy. Not sure I want to be a living stone if I have to be hard, cold and heavy. That does not sound appealing. Then, I put the terminology in reference to the time and audience it was spoken to. Back in the days of Christ, buildings, more specifically, the temple, were built of stone. Before Christ came to earth, believers entered a temple to present their sacrifices before God. Since Christ came, died, rose and gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have become the living temple of Christ. We no longer have to go to a designated building to encounter God. We have Him in us, with us all time. We are His temple in motion.
An individual stone, set in the middle of a field is a nuisance and has no purpose. Yet, as stones are placed and fit together, they create a beautiful, strong, sturdy, immovable structure that can not be torn down. We are the living stones, building upon each other. We need those who support us for guidance and wisdom. We need the ones beside us as we support one another along the way. We also need the ones above us to nurture and guide us as they become stronger in who they are in Christ. We are His mobile temple, temple in motion.
I mentioned in a previous blog that my oldest son graduated from high school. His graduation party is coming up and I’ve been in the swing of getting things ready for it. I’ve been working on a home improvement project I wanted to be finished in time for the party. It will be ready…..just in time!! It has involved painting the ceiling and walls. Painting is one of my least favorite things to do. I do not have a steady hand and am a sloppy painter. Forget about trimming without getting paint where it’s not supposed to be! Give me a roller and a wall and I’m good. I have a precious friend who knows this about me and volunteered her painting skills to help me out. Two late nights later and the painting is complete. In preparing the menu and how I was going to set it up, I was picking the brain of another dear friend who has catered many meals over the years. With her ideas and supplies, I have the food and the cookware needed to feed an army. Neighbors also had their oldest graduate and had her party before ours. They graciously offered tables, chairs and decorations. When I had moments of doubt that I could pull this off, encouragement and offers poured in at just the right time. The support that has been given is only a small example of His Living Temple in motion.
At one point in time, we all have experienced one of the four groups listed above. Over time, at our own pace, we have gravitated to Christ, therefore we have gravitated to one another and are living stones for Christ.
My friends, what does your “living stone” for Christ look like? Are you surrounded by other living stones for Christ and being the living, breathing church for Christ? I hope so! We are not created to be contained to a building. We are created to grow, flourish, build each other up and be His living temple example for the Nay-Sayers. Seeing our example may sway them to wanting to know who we know. What a miracle that will be!
Thanks for sharing a moment with me. We are in this, building our living stones together, in Him.