Belly up to the Altar

Posted: May 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

What is a church? I’m not talking about it’s physical structure or its interior contents, but more to the point, what is its purpose, its reason for existence?

I Googled the definition of the word Church and a few choices came up. The first said church definition and one was church definition Bible. I decided to see what the difference was between the two.

The mystery was solved with a click of my mouse.

Church:   (Noun) A building used for public Christian worship

I was not surprised by this definition and I actually expected it. The reason this did not surprise me is because many confessing Christians live as if they believe the church is in fact a building.

I decided to check out the church definition according to the Bible to see what I would find. I crossed my fingers and hoped it would be right.

Church:  From the Greek word ekklesia. This word is the Greek words kaleo (to call), with the prefix ek (out). Thus the word means “called out ones”

I dug a little deeper and discovered the English word “church” does not come from ekklesia but from the word kuriakon, which means “dedicated to the Lord” This word was commonly used to refer to a holy place or temple.

So with minimal “detective” work I have found the source of our ineffectiveness and deterioration. The true meaning of the Church, you and me, got mistranslated into a building made by men.

I wondered if anyone sent Jesus the memo because he is working off old outdated information, well if he is going by the Bible anyway. (thick sarcasm)

This is what we are told in Acts 7:48: However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.

We are the “building” the “temple”, God resides in us. So the church is wherever we are. That can be either good or bad. Because we can either draw people into a relationship with Christ or drive them away.

A “church” building does not have these abilities. It just stands there. A building never gossiped or judged someone harshly. It has never wounded someones spirit or caused them pain. It’s an inanimate object.

You and I on the other hand are very animated. When people say they were hurt by the church they don’t normally mean a brick fell out off the wall and hit them in the head. They are talking about flesh and blood people.

We have somehow given people the impression, churched people are perfect or that we have it all together. I am certainly not lumping all churches together under this umbrella statement, I am simply speaking to the ones that behave this way.

People are afraid to share their messy lives with us for fear of  judgement and condemnation. We look so nice and shiny in our Sunday go to meeting clothes. We talk so appropriate and holy on Sunday. We gossip but cleverly wrap it in a “prayer request”

We point fingers, whisper and glare, All while wearing our Jesus mask.

I want to tell you about this place I visited years ago:

I walked in and was surprised as everyone turned and watched as I made my way to my seat. I was greeted with kind words and sometimes just a nod and a smile.

As I settled in, the man in charge asked me if I needed anything to drink and immediately brought me the cold drink I requested. He asked me how my day was and listened as I shared about the rough day I had that capped off a very rough week.

He listened intently and was sympathetic. A few others sitting around me listened and shared their struggles and told me they understood what I was going through.

I spent several hours there. We all laughed together and cried together. Quite a few asked for my cellphone number so they could see how I was doing and maybe get together again. They shared their numbers and  told me to call anytime, day or night, no matter the hour, if I needed to talk.

By the time I left I had forgotten about my terrible week. A smile even crept across my face. I felt lighter, even refreshed. I decided to go every Sunday. I needed this in my life, I needed the friendships and to know people cared about me and maybe even loved me. I lived for Sunday so I could see the people who had literally become my family.

I remember the time I went away on a business trip for 3 weeks and my phone blew up with calls from everyone wondering if I was okay and where I had been.  They said they were worried about me and thought something had happened to me.

I loved hanging out with these guys on Sunday and found myself missing them throughout the week. We started doing other things together, bowling, fishing, movies. I had never known love and acceptance like this before. They did not care about my baggage because they said, “Everybody has baggage. We’re all in this together.”

I could tell these guys anything without fear. I felt so free.

I remember when I got notice that I was being transferred out of state with my job and the last Sunday I was there. There was a lot of tears.

As I left for the last time I turned and looked at the sign above the building. The neon sparkled through my tears. Al’s Bar. I was going to miss this place. This was my family. I hoped I would find a place like this where I was headed.

Why is it the corner bar is more inviting than the local church? Why does the corner bar seem more like a family than the family of God?

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