By Jesse Jost
I want to be clear up front that the church needs to gather. We are commanded to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We desperately need fellowship and communion with other believers. We need their encouragement and exhortations. We need their example and listening ear.
However, I am concerned by the idea that we are only the faithful church when we are packing out a building on Sunday morning. Assembling can take many forms, and where even two or three are gathered in His name, Jesus blesses it.
There are places in the world where the church is unable to meet in large groups in public buildings. Have they stopped being the church? If there comes a time in North America when churches are not allowed to meet at all in public buildings, will the church cease to exist?
For years it has bothered me that for many in North America, “church” has been reduced to a building or a ritual we do once a week.
In the New Testament Church is the community of the Bride of Christ. The emphasis is on relationships in the body, and how the individual members serve each other during the week, and live out their Kingdom mandates.
Jesus commands His church to be salt and light. We are meant to be cultural influencers and roll back the tides of darkness and oppression.
But I really think that our level of cultural influence, our “saltiness” and how bright a light we shine in to the darkness has more do with how faithfully we function as a church from Monday to Saturday, than it does with Sunday morning.
Don’t get me wrong: The Sunday morning habit of faithfully preaching God’s Word, and corporate worship, and communion are vital aspects of the church. This is a necessary reset and recharge for believers.
But who we are during the week is where we impact our culture the most; our love and actions are where our witness is brightest.
For years the polls have been disturbing in what they have revealed about how little the lifestyles and convictions of professing evangelicals differ from the culture at large.
This should be shocking. When a person is truly born again, there is heart change and a new awareness of God’s beauty and holiness. There should be a change of attitude and ethics.
Our world is hurting and broken by sin, abuse, and injustice. These lockdowns have made bleak situations bleaker. The world needs the church to rise up. But it needs to be so much more than going back to a building (though that is important.)
We need a revival of awareness of God’s deep love for each of us, and how secure we can be in that love. We need a fresh vision of His majesty and power and how completely unthreatened God feels by any of the evil schemes and plotting of men.
We need a renewed conviction to demonstrate to the world the kind of love and body life we are commanded to have in the epistles: The kind and gentle words, the earnest endeavouring to keep unity of the Spirit, the bearing of each other’s burdens, and firm exhortations against the deceptive allure of sin.
Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey all that He had commanded. Up to that point, all the commands he gave had far more to do with how we lived from Monday to Saturday than they did with how to conduct a church service.
We need to be the church in our daily habits of spiritual disciplines of implanting and meditating on the Word, and being diligent in study, prayer, and fasting.
We need to be the church as fathers, faithfully and daily leading our children in the instruction of the word.
We need to be the church as mothers, loving and serving their kids with the grace and power of the gospel, and diligently instilling in them kingdom values.
We need to be the church in our job sites with our work ethic and integrity, in our pursuing the creation of art that glorifies God.
We need to be the church in showing love and hope to those who have been knocked down by life, giving to the needy and offering comfort to the grieving, and standing up for the abused.
We need to be the church in offering friendship and safe relationships with our neighbours. We need to show that we are listening and valuing their concerns
I sometimes wonder if God has allowed these lockdowns and restrictions on Sunday morning gatherings, to really challenge His Church to be more faithful during the week.
If we want to see real cultural change, His Lordship must extend to every area of our life, not just Sunday morning.