And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25, Common English Bible).
There is a quote that has floated around both online and on t-shirts. It says, “Don’t go to church. Be the Church.” When I first saw it, I confess, I liked it.” The more I have thought about it, however, the less I like it. In fact, it’s a lie.
I liked it because I just really saw the second half. I like the idea of us, all of us being the Church. We are called to be the Church. Of that, there should never be a doubt. The lie is in the idea that we can stop going to church and still be the Church.
Being the Church implies that we should go out and serve the world. And, without a doubt, we should. But, that is not, in and of itself, being the Church. If I want to serve I can do that through the Boy Scouts or the Lion’s Club or Habitat for Humanity or any other number of other organizations that serve the community and the world.
There is one thing the Church does that is not replicated by any other part of society. It isn’t service. It isn’t fellowship. It isn’t study. It isn’t even generosity. Many people are generous who are not Christian at all. What the Church does that is not done by any other part of society is worship.
Some would say that they can worship God without going to church. I used to agree by saying, “You can, but probably won’t.” I would still say, “If it were possible, you still probably wouldn’t but it isn’t even possible.” It isn’t possible because Christianity is not done in isolation. It is not a Lone Ranger religion. Christianity is a religion of God’s people, gathered together, having fellowship together, studying together, serving together and worshiping God together.
In order to be a faithful Christian you have to gather with other Christians. To be the Church, that service, it has to be with the Church, the Body of Christ, the people of God. You cannot love God and not love God’s Church, not love God’s people.
We are called to gather as God’s people. Our lesson above reminds us that we are to meet together, regularly with other believers.
A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited.
The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.
The host watched all this in quiet fascination. As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a doornail.” Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”
So, I want to change that quite I opened with to say, “Don’t JUST go to church, be the Church. That is the life we are called to live.”
I will close by simply saying this, “Sunday is God’s Day. Get yourself to church. That is part of being the Church.”
Monday we will close out this series and we talk about an alternative to New Year’s Resolutions with an idea for an alternative for New Year’s Resolutions.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Peace,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved