Church – what is it to you?
Yesterday the Cathedral of Notre Dame was devastated by fire with the roof and spire collapsing. After 800 years it was still a place of worship and the mayor of Paris described what the iconic structure meant to the French people: “it is part of our common heritage”. This was a beautiful church.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “church”. A memory of your church growing up? Where you were baptized? Where you came to faith? A place where you were hurt or disappointed?
The church is never mentioned as a place in the bible. Jesus talked about the “Kingdom”, not a building. It’s not a “place” but a “when” – the kingdom is here now with the coming of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 17:21 Jesus says: “nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you”. It is a reality that it is here and it is us – his followers. Jesus is in us, because “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands”. Jesus speaking to Peter says “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Mt 16:18). Peter didn’t build any structures – he was a person who led people to Jesus, that was “the church” he built.
When the word “church” is used in the bible it is an English translation of the Greek word “ekklesia”. It is a gathering of people who are called out of their homes and into a public gathering. This “church” is indeed a gathering but it is not defined as a brick and mortar building detached from the public.
Let’s be the church – the “called out” ones. And live Kingdom lives being the church in the public square unbounded by walls and mingled like yeast in the dough of our communities.