Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:23-25
This morning, I was heading out of my neighborhood, later than usual, and on my way to gather with my church family. I carefully passed by this tiny little girl pedaling her bike alongside her dad who was walking their dog. Sunday morning. No plans for church, it seemed. It made me a little sad.
I was late myself, so it seemed clear they weren’t attending a church this morning. I wondered, turning out of the neighborhood, what idea that little girl had of church. Then it hit me that I was unconsciously defining church as attending vs. being.
God in Scripture does not define church as an event or a place, but rather a people. We are to gather (Acts 2:42, 46-47) as His people – to encourage each other, to serve and pray for one another, to worship God, and to support the work of the church (not the place as much as the people). There is a gathering of the church, but there is also a scattering of the church.
As we go out through the week, being the church, we are commanded by God to love Him and to love each other. (Matthew 22:37-40) Why a command? Our default is self. In His kindness, God points us to an upward focus and an outward focus.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
As our culture trends more and more toward being post-Christian, we as believers in Christ must make more intentional choices regarding church.* Not making a decision is making a decision. Are we attending church, not attending church, or being church?
Attending church maybe allows us to check something off our lists, but it’s not what being a true follower of Christ is. In fact, just attending is difficult to continue because our hearts and lives are not invested. It becomes easy, with all the distractions of life, to just not go.
Not attending church doesn’t get us to the place of being church either. When we make a series of decisions where we essentially become unchurched, we are in danger of falling away from God and His people. This is where the urging in Hebrews 10 (at top) is so vital.
Being church is what God calls us to ultimately. He means for us to gather and He means to send us out.
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him [Jesus]. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” – Luke 4:17-19
Being church means so much more than just being church attenders. It means that we are part of a group of Christ-followers. Partners. Both locally and globally. Loving God and each other deeply and taking that love to our neighbors and the nations.
The little girl on her bike, and her daddy beside her, might delight in this idea of church…and the God of this church.
[Jesus speaking] Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20
Photo Credits (above) – bpnews.net