Get your Daily Encouragement with the Jesus Minute
Today, I want to take another common word that continually is misused and misconceived. It’s the word “church”. “Church” never was intended to be a sacred term. Literally, it means those who are called out. It was commonly used for gathering or assembling a group of people who were called to a meeting for a specific purpose, such as, a city council meeting.
Jesus used the term “church” on only two occasions. In one instance, Jesus says, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”Those who heard Jesus use this terminology had no idea that Jesus meant he was going to build the institutional Church. They took him to mean exactly what he said: “I will buildup or edify all of those who gather or assemble in my name. This dynamic movement of gatherings (churches, assemblies) will not be able to be stopped.” (Matthew 16:18)
And later, Jesus said, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”Jesus is instructing those who have a conflict with another follower to take the issue to the group (the assembly or gathering) of followers they met with, if the offending person wouldn’t listen to a few of them. Again, the terminology of church is the same as a gathering or an assembly. (Matthew 18:16-17)
“Church” is even used to describe a rioting crowd in Ephesus: So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly (church) was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together. (Acts 19:32) There is a great usage of the term in Acts 8:3, where Luke describes the church as a disassembled assembly of followers of Jesus that met from house to house. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.
The term “church” is nothing sacred in and of itself. However, when any group gathers in the name of Jesus to pray, eat, discuss the teachings of Jesus and enjoy fellowship together, that is very dynamic–that is the sacred and living church of Jesus.
When we were sitting for 3 of our grandchildren last weekend, Diana apologized to our 11 year old, Faith, for not taking them to Church on Sunday. Faith said, “Oh, that’s OK, we don’t always go to Church. I am in a little group on Thursday evenings with other kids my age and that’s my church.” She went on to say, “At Church on Sundays, we don’t talk much about Jesus, but go over the same old stories from the Old Testament. On Thursdays, that’s about Jesus and I love it!” Hmmmmm.
Are you in a group where you talk about Jesus?