What is the church? blog image from jonhorton.com

What is the church?

Depending on your experience, you probably have different words racing through your mind when you hear the word "church."

Hypocrites.
Unloving.
Angry.
Legalistic.
Exclusionary.
Judgemental.

The list goes on and on.

We conjure up images of church buildings—beautiful and ornate, but dead inside. Or perhaps your experience is with the mega-modern-church with its flashing lights, on point band, and glowing projectors.

But, what is the church?

Is it just a building that we go to every Sunday? An experience that fills an hour of our week, to escape the mundane routine of our lives, only to go right back to the day-to-day with our lives no different than before?

Perhaps we've gotten it all wrong.

In the New Testament writing, the greek word for church is ekklessia. which literally means "called out assembly." There's no mention of a building or an organization. Just a description of a group of people who are different from everyone else. People who are set apart and instantly recognized as those who don't fit in with the status quo.

The implications are staggering. Church isn't just a place you attend on the weekend?

No. You are the church. Your body a temple, that creates a space where God's presence dwells and interacts with our world through the people you meet, the conversations you have, and the way you live your life.

In ancient times, God's spirit dwelled in a temple. In an inner chamber called the Holy of Holies, where only the high priest was permitted to enter once a year, after all of the ritual sacrifices and purity offerings were made.  He would enter and plead on behalf of the nation of israel to pardon the sins—all of the times the people missed the mark and blew it. Asking God to forgive their sins and pass over their punishment.

But with the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, everything changed. He redefined things. Upended the way things were. Now there's a new paradigm. A new way of seeing the world, where the spirit of the living God no longer dwells in a tent built by man, but in the living hearts of people who were willing to take a leap of faith and trust in this creator God.

Now, we are the holy place, the tabernacle, or dwelling place of this God. A God who's not confined to a static building, but living and breathing, and moving throughout the expanse of His beautiful creation. Making himself known in the good times and the difficult times. the profound and the mundane. He's present, he's God with us, surrounding our every day lives. And so often, our modern definitions pale in comparison of the reality of God.

The Church isn't a building, or an organization, or an experience that we attend once a week. No. You are the church. you are the set apart people, called out with the purpose of showing others what this amazing God is like. Someone who is gracious and compassionate, filled with mercy, loving kindness, and justice. A God who despite his infinite power and ability to create, focuses on the lost sheep. Who cares enough to reach out to us when we're at our worst. Even when we're in the depths of hell, his hand is there to comfort us and lead us out.

What would it look like if we became this called out people? How would our relationships change as we lived our lives as if this was true?

No longer bound to a day of the week, but empowered through the Spirit to live a life that points others back to the author of all life. To this king of the universe who loves us and knows what we need before we even utter the words.

We are the church, and as we live our normal, day-to-day life, I pray that God's presence would be with you. That it would saturate your life to the point of overflowing. That people would recognize that you're different, and that as you step into your calling to be a people of the living God, that others would notice, their lives would change, and God would get all of the glory—regardless of whether you have a 501c3 or not.

August 11, 2022