Being raised in the church all my life, there was never a safer place I could think of. In the midst of the most chaotic and confusing times of my life there has always been something very peaceful about being in the house of God. It was safe, and secure. It’s always been a hospital, a safe haven, a shelter from a cold world, and a place of restoration and hope. But where is the at church at today? We are not living in times of peace and harmony. The church is constantly under attack and we need to wake up. It’s a war zone and we can’t afford to relax and sit back while our walls are crumbling down.
Someone wise once said, “The church is not an organization with Jesus Christ as its president. The church is a living organism with Jesus Christ as its head. We are in Him and He is in us.” Let’s take a few minutes and examine what it truly means when we say “WE are in HIM, and HE is in US”. A non-biblical understanding simply defines a Church as nothing more but “a building used for public Christian worship.” However, the biblical understanding of a church defines it otherwise. The word church comes from the Greek word “ekklesia” which translates to “called out ones”. When we talk about church, we are not talking about a building or religious denomination. We are talking about an assembly of people who are called to represent Jesus Christ – “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” – 1 Corinthians 12:13. We are talking about the body of Christ which is formed by all those who have a personal relationship with Christ. Makes sense right?
So, if WE are the body of Christ, then who are we actually representing? What are we portraying? Who are we reflecting? There are people out there that have been chewed up and spat out by the world. There are people out there looking for a place of refuge; a place they will be accepted into with all of their shame, guilt, mistakes, and flaws. Yet the sad truth remains to be this: We have developed an obsession with trying to “modernize” the church to “fit” into the society we live in – so much so – that our constant desire of wanting to mix in worldly standards, principles, and values is turning the church into the very place many are looking to escape from.
What do I mean by this? Let me address some of the obvious issues: We tend to worry more about how charismatic we sound while preaching the word of God because we are concerned far more about quantity (of people) than quality. We tend to tip-toe around issues of sinful lifestyle and cover it up by using good old “grace” because we’re more concerned about not offending each other, than we are about offending God. When conflicts arise between us, we immediately turn to gossip as an outlet to vent our so called “frustration”, rather than striving to restore the relationship directly with our brothers and sisters. When one of us fails, the rest of us jump on the opportunity to judge and condemn instead of reminding ourselves that we too, deal with struggles in which we are constantly seeking God’s strength for. We are picky with who we choose to love AND associate with, even though we claim we all share “one heavenly Father”. Quite embarrassing right? The list goes on, and truthfully speaking we can’t deny these things are happening inside the church today. Many are hurt and often left with far more scars to heal from, when they are suppose to be in a place to get healing for their scars.
Earlier, I began by saying that the dictionary defined a church as “a building used for public Christian worship” but in all honesty, with the way we have allowed things to get, we can’t even meet the standard definition of the dictionary – let alone the definition of the bible. A church is ONE BODY, and WE are the body that’s been called out to live a life in which our light should completely dominate darkness. We are the body that needs to be alert, and conscious of the way we represent ourselves as individuals in Christ, but also corporately as the the body of Christ. We can NOT get comfortable with the idea that the church is safe, and let our guards down.
Soldiers are always equipped and in full gear when they know they are in a war zone – even if in that moment they are not necessarily in battle. They will still use their instincts, and act accordingly whether or not their enemy is in sight. Reason for that is because they fully understand that at any given time they could be attacked. Since they understand the overall environment they are in, they will never get comfortable. And this is exactly what 1 Peter 5:8 talks about when it says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” You’ve already been warned that you are not in a safe zone. For as long as you are an active body, you will always be a target for the enemy to devour.
So how do we protect the church? By being alert and sober minded. By walking and living the example of love we see only from the head of this body which is Jesus Christ. The minute we begin to look elsewhere is the minute we are making ourselves an available and visible target for the enemy to attack. We should always remind ourselves that we are never in a safe zone. Protection begins in the choices we make, the lifestyle we choose, and the example we follow in our own individual lives, as well as corporately as a body.
See you next Monday!