In my last two posts I spent some time looking at the church being a place that welcomes unbelievers as well as believers who are unrepentant and doing the wrong things into fellowship and whether that is a good or a bad thing. I do not want to go over those points again (you can read them by clicking here and here) but I would like to have a look at the topic from some different angles today. Here are some extra points worth considering.
We have the wrong mindset about church
For some reason, even though we know better, we still keep thinking of the church as the building where good people go to on Sunday mornings. Anyone can go to a religious meeting, all you have to do is shake someone’s hand at the door and you are in. But to be grafted into the body of Christ requires death and resurrection. The church is not something you go to but rather it is something one is a part of. It is Christ’s body, it is Christ’s bride, it is Gods holy city and a spiritual house made up of living stones.
The church is like Jesus
The church is the body of Christ so it follows that it should look like him. When I look at Jesus; I see someone who associated with the poor, the lowly, the dirty and the sinners. Yet at the same time, I also see a man who sometimes spoke privately with his disciples and shared things with them only. At other times he withdrew completely from everybody to be alone with God. It makes sense to me that the church should reflect that. There will be times for us to gather with the poor, the lowly, the dirty and those who are lost. But there are also times when the church needs to gather as the church. For prayer or for making kingdom related decisions. It is not simply a one or the other thing.
The church has different kinds of meetings
When you start reading through the New Testament it quickly becomes evident that not all gatherings were for the same purpose. The church met publicly at the temple and attended the synagogues. Some gatherings were specifically for proclaiming the Kingdom of God and would have been specifically directed to unbelievers. At other times they met specifically to pray. On other occasions they met simply to break bread around the dinner table. Sometimes the church gathered for teaching and instruction. In today’s world, Sunday services are perhaps a good place for believers, for broken branches (Romans 11:16-24) and unbelievers to hear Christ preached together. Whereas homes may be more suitable for discipleship, prayer and fellowship for the church; although exceptions would certainly be acceptable.
Church may not be for everyone but the church is
The church is not for everyone, she is betrothed to Christ. Yet because she is Christ’s she is deeply committed to everyone; just as God desires that none should perish, so the church must have a heart for those who are dying. She cares about her own and seeks to make herself ready for the bridegroom. Yet she also cares about his kingdom and his creation and will do her utmost to bring healing where she can. Her love is not conditional to who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ because it is the love of Christ that pours out from her. Church may not be for everyone, but the church is committed to all people because the the bridegrooms invitation is extended to all.