Be The Church!
Church is not required. What is required is living fully, loving wastefully, and serving radically.
Maybe, it’s time to stop going to church and start being the church. It is time to stop sitting in pew, singing songs, listening to sermons and start being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world and living the sermon. If going to church does not make you a better person or if it makes you worse than you should just stay home.
Jesus never said go to church. He did say love and serve, take up your cross and follow me.
Sometimes we go through the motions to look good and keep the peace, but our hearts aren’t changed, we haven’t given our hearts to God. We are there for pretense alone.
It’s like a man who brings his wife a gift—flowers or chocolates. When his wife thanks him and kisses him to express her gratitude. He says the store was having a sale. Does she want the gift anymore? No. She wants her husband’s love. She wants her husband to think of her first to want to make her happy not for pretenses or to keep the peace, but because her happiness is his main intention that when she is happy so is he. She wants his heart.
God wants us to love and honor him not out of obligation or to get into heaven, but because we want to, because we are in a relationship with the divine not to keep the peace, to appease God, or for some pretense, but because we are moved to it. God wants us to love and honor him not with our words and rituals, but with our hearts and actions. Through loving and caring for each other, we worship God. This, I believe is what St. Francis meant when he said we should preach the gospel always, use words when necessary.
We are the church when we are following so closely on the heels of our rabbi, Jesus we are covered in the dust from his feet.
Pastor and writer Bob Hostetler writes, “To be the church means ‘what we do in here’—in the place where the community gathers—must ‘fill the streets out there’. It requires that we know—and act like we know—that the church does not exist for the sake of those of us on the inside but to be a blessing to those who are still on the outside.”
As Rob Bell has said our church should operate in such a way that if it were to disappear the people on the outside would miss its presence.
I don’t go to church out of obligation, but because I want to show my love for God with all my heart, soul, and strength. I worship God not for my sake, but to affirm God is the source and ground of my being. Church is not a building I go on Sunday morning, but a loving community committed to the way of Jesus, a group of people committed to being Jesus’ hands and feet in the world. The church is not made of stone and steel, but people gathered by Jesus saying yes to the Kingdom of God and no to the world of men and things. To be in the church and live my faith in a real way is to be in breach of the systems of the world. It is an outward symbol of an inner process that is ongoing and never ending.
In Ephesians 5, Paul writes, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
A Christian is one who loves the unlovable, includes the excluded, guides the lost, cares for the hurting, is committed to being better than they used to be, helping others do the same, and affirms that we do this through Jesus Christ. Wherever a Christian goes and whatever a Christian does influences his worship and fellowship. Everything we do and don’t do should be guided by the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus. We should follow God’s example and be an example to the world. As it has been said, “Grace is like the sunlight on a building: It can enter only into those rooms which have their curtains drawn wide apart.”
Going to church is not something you do to look good or to keep the peace; it’s something you do because if you didn’t in some way you would feel incomplete. It’s not about attendance at some building on a certain day and time, but about the way, you live out your life and faith on a daily basis. It’s about the kind of person you want to be and are becoming, not something to cross of a things-to-do list and not something you do to get a gold star.
So, the next time you go to church pause for just a moment before you enter and ask yourself if you really want to be there or if you would rather be home asleep or doing anything else. Do that. Come back when you really want to be part of the church.
Church is not a building you go to, but a way of being in the world but not of the world.