What is a Church? That is an important question every Christ-follower must ask. “Many regard church like a hotel where people meet briefly & even eat in close proximity but neither know or care about each other” says Terry Virgo. Excellent diagnosis! By that standard, church can be a very lonely place, especially for new comers. This, sadly, can be honestly said of many evangelical churches.
Certainly, there is no perfect church. Church can be messy because church is a family. Although families are messy, God is in the mess. Furthermore, we are called to be the church that God intended it to be, namely: a community of believers who love God and others. And Christ-like love is all about pursuing the good of another that doesn’t deserve it. For love does not demand any reciprocation from the person being loved.
Church is not an event that happens on Sunday. Church is a movement of people that desire to love God and love their neighbors. Church is not the building in which Christians gather. Church is the collaboration of Christians who gather in that building to work together in transforming their community through Jesus. Church is not an exclusive spiritual “country club” for middle to upper class people. Church is a ragtag community MADE OF broken, hurt and wounded people working together to meet other broken, hurt, and wounded people where they’re at. What is church to you (or maybe what should church be)?(7 sentences)
Church really is a gathering of sinners who are being transformed by the power of the Gospel. It is a grace-centered community where broken sinner-saints learn to receive and give grace to one another. That is a hard-pill, because grace is intellectually apprehended but not always lived-out. Grace is easily received but not easily given. Legalism is easy to be lived-out, not grace. But Christ calls His church to be a grace-receiving and grace-giving community. This is precisely because Church is a community of believers who are experiencing & living-out what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Christ gave us grace on the cross, not condemnation. We were given what we did not deserve. So church is a caring-community of broken & needy people reaching out to a broken & needy world by the life-changing power of the Gospel. Church is not about being inside a building 14% of the week, but living-out the Gospel 100% of the week. And Grace is essential for such a life-style.
A Visible Church Set On A Hill Within A City.
Kakure Kirishitan ( Japanese for “Hidden Christian”) were known as people who maintained the Christian faith during the time of persecution (1614-1873) and who then chose not to join the Roman Catholic church. Nonetheless, it is also said that the Hidden Christians would openly declare themselves as Shinto/Buddhists socially and publicly (or whenever they were questioned by the authorities) but would confess their Christian faith personally in private. They would do whatever they could in order to escape suspicion or avoid persecution. They, basically, lived a double life. Can churches in the 21st century be said of the same? Is there any correlation between our private life and public life as Christians? Or have we become prone to live dual lives ?
Jesus said: “YOU are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt. 5: 14). Jesus is, in the moral world, what the sun is in the natural world (John 8: 12). The light of Christ exposes sin & shines into the darkest corners of our society and human existence. Everything is addressed & penetrated by the light of the Gospel. The apostles, Christian leaders, and all Christians (including you dear reader), are lights of the world, called out to reflect the glory of God in your city by word and deed. Many of the cities of Judea were placed on the summits or sides of mountains, and could be seen from afar. Jesus pointed to such a city, and told his disciples that they were like it. Our actions & God-given gifts cannot or should not be hidden. They were meant to be put in the right place, so that it shines for Jesus. Our gifts, time and resources are meant to shine like lights in and through the church. The eyes of the world were upon the disciples, as they are upon us today. We are called to be salt & light in the midst of a world that is living in darkness & sin. The Gospel must be proclaimed but also lived out. Church really is called to be “a city set on a hill” within a city. Our lives must be seen. We are called to acknowledge, and not deny, Christ openly in public (Matt. 10: 33). We are to let “our light shine before others, so that they may see [y]our good works and give glory to [y]our Father who is in heaven” (Matt.5: 16). The purpose for which God calls us to be a city within a City is so that we may reflect, by our “good works” the light of Christ in our homes, towns, cities and nations. And that the world may give glory to our Father in heaven.
As I mentioned before in my previous article:
In Japan’s dark and desperate hour, the only work that will speak voluminously of the glorious light of Jesus Christ is charity and compassion. "...let your light shine before others, so that [the Japanese] may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven"-Matthew 5: 16). "Japan Earthquake: Divine Comfort In The Midst of Catastrophe"