Everything is marketed and spun for our allegiance. It’s all about the brand. It’s all about me. This week I was reminded that the church is not immune to this, either.
I rarely post comments to blogs I read, but this week I thought I had something to add the that conversation. I won’t get into the details, (If you’re interested, here’s a link to that blog post.) but the issue was embracing a doctrinal “brand” of theology and then qualifying and defining it in such a way that the original label ceased to make sense. The point of the blog was that theologians are at times more interested in keeping the label of a specific doctrine because it is seen as a qualification in order to belong to a certain branch of Christianity. My comment to the blog was that I agreed with the definition of the doctrine, I just wouldn’t use that brand name anymore. I would call it like it is, then I gave some suggestions.
Why am I telling you this story?
In recent weeks I’ve been challenged in my view of the church. I’ve found that I’m more willing to hold on to what tradition has taught me than to call it like it is.
What do you think of when you hear the word “church?” Immediately I think of two things. 1) The people of God. 2) A localized gathering of that people. The second thought is where I need to call it like it is. I often view this gathering in terms of Sunday morning, and this gathering being the primary entrance into the people of God. This would make us, the local church, the door to the universal church. Jesus said, though, that he is the door (gate) and all who enter through him are saved. (John 10:7-9) If I am honest I will realize that the local church doesn’t house Jesus. He takes up residence in the hearts of people. Wherever these people gather that is the church. This is truer to the meaning of the Greek word that is translated “church,” ekklesia: those called out for the purpose of gathering. I have to constantly remind myself that the church isn’t called into the four walls of a building somewhere, but called out into the world, bringing the presence of Jesus with them as they go. It is not about a brand or about me. It is the people of God loving people that God loves.
So what is the Sunday morning worship gathering? It is still vitally important to the life of the Christian for worship, encouragement, discovery, and fellowship. It is a gathering that empowers for its scattering, a calling together for the purpose of sending out.
Grace and peace,