Well, here we go with the first Sunday for many people where they don't "go" to church. The corona-virus craziness is in full-swing and governments across the country have forbidden the church to meet.
All week long I have seen posts of people proclaiming that the church isn't a building and it is time to show that church can go on without the building. The response? Live-streamed services, live-streamed prayer, and live-streamed worship.
We even did some live-streamed worship this week. Just Jackie and I and a track playing on the computer. We really enjoyed it.
Today I got up thinking and praying for the services in the churches I know that are going to live stream. I prayed for no technical difficulties. I prayed for words of comfort and action to pour from the preachers' mouths. I prayed that God's people would come to a deeper understanding of what being the church means, and then it dawned on me: "Most of us still don't know where to even start being the church."
We've explored taking away the Sunday service here in our local church because I think we medicate a desire to be in communion with others by showing up and observing others provide a "service" we call church. As we removed the 'service', some people have left and just found a different service to go observe. But, the ones who have really dug in with us to figure out how to "be" the church have found that it is hard and challenging, but also incredibly rewarding.
Being the church is hard!
It is hard because you find that to truly disciple people requires energy and effort. It requires seeing how weak you are and how little time you actually are willing to make for Jesus, and by proxy, others. It places a target on your back for spiritual attack when you are the one doing the research to answer another believer's question or when you are the one in prayer holding back forces of evil. Your failings become much greater in your eyes when you see how they impact the people around you who now truly do depend on you. And so, as a response, many will just stop "being" the church. When you revert back to observing a service, you realize life just gets easier for some reason. You feel happier, more care-free, and more alive in Christ. There are less defeats. But are you really "being" the church? There is a reason it is easier.
Here is a test to see if you are being the church this week:
- ___ I have prayed with another believer about something deeply personal in their life this week.
- ___ I have spent time in prayer for another person even when not in the room with them.
- ___ I have spent time in the Word becoming more aware of God's calling in my life.
- ___ I have shared that Word with someone else I am discipling this week.
- ___ I have shared the gospel this week.
- ___ I have shared financially some of what I have extra with someone else in need.
- ___ I have confessed to another believer this week.
Do we settle?
Phew! Ya, maybe I'll just go to church. Being the church seems like a legalistic list.
But, we don't define it. Christ defined it.
He says we are his temple. He says his temple is to be known as a house of prayer.
He says that if we love Him we will know his voice and keep his commandments.
He says we are to teach others all that he has commanded.
He says we are to go and make disciples and to proclaim the good news as his amabassadors.
He says if we have extra we should give it to those in need around us.
He says when we confess our sins to each other we find healing and growth.
Sound like a lot? It is.
That is why in America we settle for going to church. We can give our money there without giving our heart. We can worship in word and deed and spare the truth that it doesn't echo into our lives the rest of the week. We can "be fed" and ignore the Word the rest of the week. We want to have our lives and His too. But, we can't. He says if we want to find our life we must lose it for Him. If we want to be the Church we must be willing to lay down our lives to involve ourselves in others'. He says we must take up our cross and follow Him.
No Short-Cuts to Victory
The reality is I can't give you the short-cut to being the church. The reason is because you have to discover it. You have to develop it. It is a character and faith development to move from being content with watching others do battle versus doing battle yourself. I hope this post broadens your perspective and challenges you to fight for it.
The church is on the brink of something huge here. We may see an explosion of the gospel. But, you, as an individual, have to fight for it if you want it. Do you?
What do you wrestle with the most about 'being the church?' Comment below! I bet you're not alone.