(I’ve come to realize that my latest series of posts is somewhat backwards. A regular reader reads from the bottom up while a new visitor may read from the top down. The latter is how the following three posts are best read. This is a rather strange consequence from exploring an idea in blog form.)
My earlier though on how I could work in two types of churches was not the issue I was ruminating on. The deeper notion is that of “what constitutes the church.” Is it a place we meet, a gathering of people or a quality of relationship?
I’d have to say that the church is not the building or place we meet. Meeting in a church building does not make us the church any more than sitting in a race car makes us a race driver. Secondly, gathering as a group of people with a faith in Christ does not make us the church either.
History is replete with atrocities committed by groups of people with a strong religious ideology and belief in Christ. After all, many southern churches were pro-slavery in the early 19th century. The oppression and brutality of slavery as practiced in America at that time was absolutely contrary to our understanding of what Christ was on about. Meeting as a group of people who claim the name of Christ does not make us the church either. Then what does?
Jesus said, “…remain in my love. If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s command and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
Being the church is to be in the quality of relationship that is marked by LOVE. It is when we love each other and those who do not know Christ that we are manifesting the church. This is a mystery that we must live. They church exists in the moments of relationship where we are thinking/being/acting/relating/living/giving expression to the love of Christ.
I welcome this mystery of the church: those ephemeral moments of relationship when we operate in the Spirit & Love of Christ. How this happens, I don’t know nor can I explain it. It is the Spirit of Christ that allows us to be the church.