Church (n): a building for public Christian worship
This definition is the one found on dictionary.com, a uncomplicated- practical description of a place people either find hope or hurt. On the other hand, the definitions for church on urbandictionary.com are less concrete (and more hilarious).
“the best cure for insomnia”
“similar to a mental hospital with less physical restraints”
Clearly, the definition of church is not always easy to articulate. But when I look to the bible I don’t see a complicated, hard to describe definition for church, I see a beautiful one.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
When Jesus came to this earth to redeem His people, He left the church to be His tangible kingdom. Until we take our last breath and enter the kingdom of heaven, the church on earth is the closest we get to what Hallelujah Place will look like. A place where people are in community together, worshiping the One who gave them grace to do it. The church isn’t a place it is a family. A family with broken, hurting, confused people who hold fast to what Jesus commanded of us- to love Him with our whole hearts and love all His people well.
Oftentimes, it is easy for us to love God, or at least pretend to. But loving all His people? Loving them more then we love ourselves? That’s not as easy. Yet that is the call of the church. It’s simple but we miss it. We get so muddled in the routine of “church” we forget to live in it’s mission. The mission of Jesus that calls us to share our lives together, invite people to share in our lives, and increase the family. As described above, the early church ate together, they praised God together, they gave EVERYTHING to ANYONE in need. They served as Jesus did in His name. That is our call as the church.
In the last few years as I’ve walked closer to Jesus, I have seen how people opened their doors to strangers, loved relentlessly, and cared for the needs of many. In the last month I’ve lived with nine people and it has been a sanctifying process. When I’m at my most selfish and bratty, they’ve lovingly reminded me to get over myself and covered me in grace. Grace I don’t deserve and grace that points me towards Jesus.
As I continue in my summer here in Portland, as well as in my life, I pray grace overflows from me to those I call family and those I hope to one day call family. I pray I am challenged to share my life with others even when it is hard because Jesus gave His life for me when it was hard. As the honeymoon phase on this trip comes to an end and the days I feel weary, tired, and so unwillingly to host people over increase I pray His grace comes fast on my heart and Acts 2 comes to my mind. For the new friends my teammates and I meet this summer I pray we can be the church for them, in a way they may have never experienced- a way that glorifies Jesus fully and ushers Truth.
Jesus loves the church, it is precious to Him. I pray it becomes more precious to me.