The Church is not a place, it’s people – and it’s not always the people you want it to be.
The Church is another word for family. Brothers and Sisters reborn by the same blood, the blood of Jesus Christ. Children of the same Father, Almighty God.
The problem we often have is that our family separates itself up into little groups, little sub-families that we call ‘churches’. This can then distract us from the truth that we are all one big ‘Church’.
It’s easy to see ‘the Church’ as being the people who go to the same building as us every Sunday and dress up nicely and do and say all the appropriate things. The Church, however, is like any family… it’s a bit more messy than that.
You see, this is the Church:
- The Church is the guy you see begging outside of the store every day who loves God but doesn’t go to meetings any more because he’s embarrassed by the way he looks and smells.
- The church is that tattooed woman with all the metal in her face who you subconsciously pull your children away from in the fear that she might bite – or worse.
- The Church is the man who sits alone at home every Sunday because his wife died last year and worship was one of her favorite things and he just can’t face going to a worship service because they remind him of her too much.
- The Church is Pastor Fred, the pastor of the black church over in the ghetto who ministers in an area where you and I are afraid to even drive.
- The Church is my friend Eddie who should be serving life in prison for the crimes he committed as a gang member in his teens, who now goes regularly out onto the streets to try to change the lives of other gang members.
- The Church is that woman on death row who is getting the punishment for her crimes but who has found forgiveness for her sins through Jesus Christ.
- The Church is the pregnant prostitute who got sucked into a world she can’t get out of by circumstances we can’t even imagine.
- The Church is the Pastor who fell from grace because he got caught in sin and now he’s an outcast being judged by people whose sin is every bit as bad as his.
- The Church is the teenager who finds love in all the wrong places – and doesn’t find it in the Church.
- The Church is the disabled guy who no-one speaks to on a Sunday morning because they’re “not called to work with the disabled”.
The Church is all these people and more.
The Church is also the people who at least seem to have it all together, your friends and people you know who are in ministry.
We’re all the Church.
The Church is the people you like, the people you want it to be but it’s also the people you’d rather it wasn’t, the ones you wouldn’t choose as your family.
Fortunately, we don’t get to choose who the Church is. If we did, whole sections of the world, whole communities, races and people groups would get left out.
God is the one who gets to decide who the Church is and who it isn’t, not us.
We just have to decide whether or not to accept his decisions.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17 – emphasis mine)
Question: Are there people you’d rather not admit are part of the Church?