“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV).
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47 NKJV).
“…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18 KJV).
Stop going to church?
Jesus commanded us to “make disciples” (Matt. 28:19), but He never told us to go to church. In fact, the only “going” He commanded, was to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). Jesus never told us to go to church because the Bible never describes it as a place to go, but a people to be.
Today, we have too many people who go to church and not nearly enough who actually understand what it means to be the church. Consider the description of the first-century church in the book of Acts. Their devotion to God and to one another, their visible witness, their gladness, and favor with outsiders; all these characteristics were evidence of the Spirit of Christ in their community. This Spirit-filled, family of God, confessing “Christ as Lord” with their mouths as well as their manner, was the “rock” upon which the “Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
The church, as the people of God, is to be the visible manifestation of the body of Christ in this world. The existence of the true church should be one of the strongest proofs of God’s activity and presence. It is to be, as the apostle Paul told the Ephesians, the “household of God built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” And as Paul told the church at Corinth, our meetings should be so Spirit-filled and Word-rich that unbelievers would “fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, ‘God is truly here among you!’” (1 Cor. 14:25).
Unfortunately, the hypocrisy of those who only go to church, instead of being the church, has become an actual hindrance to the gospel receptivity of unbelievers. The church that should be an attraction to unbelievers, repels instead.
What can we do?
Stop just going to church and start being the church. Because the church is not the steeple, it’s the people. It’s not a place to go, but a people to be. It’s not a building filled with fine furnishings, but a faith-filled, family of Christ-followers. Pray that God would make our church a gospel-saturated, Spirit-filled, graceful and generous people, so that He can add to our number daily those who are being saved.
Let’s stop just GOING to church and start BEING the church, then Christ will BUILD the church.