And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
(Matthew 16:18 KJV)
What is the definition of “church”?
The most well-known definition is “a building used for public worship.” However, the word “church,” in the Bible, comes from the Greek word “ekklesia,” which means a “called-out company or assembly.” Wherever it is used in the Bible, it refers to people. Therefore, church has a spiritual purpose, not a physical purpose. Then what is your purpose for church?
In “What is the Biblical View of the Church,” by Dr. Michael Williams — a pastor, author, Christian educator and biblical counselor — he states that the church is not Jews or Gentiles, it is not a kingdom, and it is not a physical building or business organization. However, he adamantly declares that the church is the building or temple of God, it is the bride of Christ, and it has a spiritual purpose.
Dr. Williams concludes his article with the following explanation about the church: “When Jesus had dinner at Matthew’s house, He was asked how He could spend time eating with sinners? (Matthew 9:9-13 KJV). When Jesus heard this, He answered with words that were very telling. He said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
With these words, Jesus described the church: imperfect people who know they needed a Savior, working together to build relationships, helping those in need, and glorifying God by striving to be like Christ and share His love with others.
During this pandemic, especially when the “stay-at-home” orders went into place, many went into panic mode because they could not go into the actual buildings for church service. Yet church services continued by other means, and we could still hear the messages. This let us know that the church is about the people. We did not have to go into a physical building to worship and praise God. We did it in the comfort of our homes with our families. The usual distractions in the building were not present. There, we see it again: the church is about the people. We are the church!
That is why it is so vitally important to let others see Jesus in us. Church is not about who wears the fanciest clothes, who drives the finest cars, who gives the most money, who has the highest socioeconomic statuses, which choir sings the best, etc. It’s about the people winning souls for Jesus Christ — and being in a building is not a pre-requisite for that goal!
According to Philip G. Layton of Faithlife Sermons, “It’s been said: ‘A high proportion of people who ‘go to church’ have forgotten what it is all for. Week by week, they attend services in a special building and go through their particular, time-honored routine, but give little thought to the purpose of what they are doing. The Bible talks about the ‘the bride of Christ,’ but the church today seems like a ragged Cinderella. It needs to reaffirm the non-negotiable, essential elements God designed for it to be committed to.’”
Further, Layton states, “Some churches are driven by a lot of things other than their biblical purpose:
Past (tradition, no change, we’ve always done it this way)
Personality (pastor or influential persons that dominate)
Pockets (money, payments, finances, heated budget meetings)
Politics (or social agendas…is this the church’s focus?)
Pews (whatever they can do to fill the seats)
Pagans (what do unbelievers want church to be like? Let’s survey them, etc.)
Programs (fad-driven church, latest and greatest).”
Therefore, what is your purpose for church?
Is your focus on a building, finance, social status, a place to be seen, politics, or what? What is your relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Who are you aiming to please, spiritually?
Only you know the answers to these questions. As you answer them, remember what Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 (KJV): “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus was not talking about bricks and mortar!
Have a wonderfully blessed week, stay safe and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)