Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lent: Day Nine ~ YOU are the Church

1 Cor. 1: 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

 YOU are the Church

These words still ring in my ears, ‘YOU are the church.’ Pastor Mike said these words one week during a sermon and they’ve stuck with me ever since. What on earth did he mean?

Well he said something more like, “When you enter this building every Sunday, it is merely a building, it isn’t until all the people are gathered here that it becomes a Church, you ARE the church.”

No matter where I put the emphasis, ‘I’ am a part of the bricks (community) that form this church. That’s a lot to drink in. Many people go to church once a year for whatever reason but they are not a brick in the building, they’re a colorful decoration in the form of a flowerbed outside the building.

The once a year-ers are no different than the ones who sit at home listening to a weekly service coming through to them via the airwaves, they are a flower in the flowerbed. Don’t get me wrong, if you are sick, disabled, unable to attend a church building, you are nurturing your spirit in your own way.

But if you’re sitting at home listening because the whole ‘building’ thing is not for you, you become the soil. I know this firsthand because that was me twelve years ago. My oh my how life has changed. Changed because of a building, you say? Not at all, changed because of a community, a congregation of family, brothers and sisters of Christ bonded together, knitted like a fine afghan.

For too many years I was sitting at home week after week filling myself with God. Reading, believing and listening to the very word I would one day share with the world. Not because I’m preachy because I’m a human who has walked where you have walked, a sinner just as you but I CHOSE to change.

God is like that, you know, gives us the CHOICE to change or to stay stagnant. Growth cannot and WILL NOT happen if you don’t CHOOSE to change. Soil DOES hold the power to bring forth a flower. It also has the ability to form a brick in the making of a building.

If you attend a church and the first sermon you hear has words in it that speak of tithing and giving, and offerings, then you should leave and seek out a new church. Sometimes it takes a few visits to get to the one that speaks to YOU. If you feel the people are judging you, you should leave. If you feel uncomfortable, leave.

I remember when we first started attending church about ten years ago. We found a community that embraced us, we had the pot luck brunches, we shared, we tithed and for four years we enjoyed the church until the minister made a mistake when Steven was going blind. We were seeking Social Security and I had said that I was trusting God to see that we received S.S. He told me that you can’t ALWAYS trust God, sometimes you need a lawyer because S.S is not easy to get.

Not trust God? Really? My entire life has been centered on trusting God AND receiving the fruits of my labor and now a minister is telling me to NOT trust God? Needless to say, after four years of attending that church, we sought out a new one.

And as God promised, we received the S.S., found a new church but then we were called to Nebraska. We then set out to find a NEW church that was right for us. We went to two different churches and while they felt like a snug fit, we needed an extra-width because we had grown in our faith.

We found it at eFree; a community that wrapped its arms around us and blanketed us in a comfortable layer as we braced for blindness. We were no longer just flowers in soil, we were a brick forming a building!

About our third or fourth sermon at eFree, Pastor Mike had said as the offering plate was being passed around, “If you’re new here, this plate is not for you, it is for the members who wish to give to the community of Christ. If God has placed on your heart to give, by all means, but this plate is not us begging for money.”

A year would pass before the mention of money came up and he addressed it as, “People keep asking me why we don’t ask for money or talk about money and tithing? Tithing is about believers who understand the meaning. If you’re new here, we don’t want to turn you off by always asking for money. That’s not what we’re about. We’re about Christ and HIS message to you.” Wow!

You’re right if you’re saying that not all churches are like that. You’re right if you’re saying most churches are about money (mega churches for example) but that IS NOT what a church is supposed to BE about. The church is about you, becoming a brick in the solid foundation of a community. You are not meant to be soil, you’re not meant to be a pretty flower on show, you are about change and what a community who’s built on growth can do for that change.

Our church is about people! We serve the surrounding community, whether it be meals, whether it be shelter; we have mission trips to other states and countries and encourage change and growth. The church parking lot is not filled up only on Sunday’s, it is filled every day of the week with some form of activity; be it bible studies, women meeting for further study or men meeting for further study, or kids (college age) who attend two a week sermon’s for them, or Awana for smaller children. All in all, our church’s main function is growth, change, and most of all commitment to Christ.

A church is just a building until YOU fill it; it then BECOMES a Church. Thank you Pastor Mike for making it all clear to me. I’m NOT just a flower I’m a brick forming a building! I’m still learning and growing but without my community of brothers and sisters, I’d be just soil.

Acts 16: 5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.


Debbie Seko said...

Amen! Well said!

joni said...

I knew you'd get it! You're a brick! A solid foundation part of a community!

*BIG hugs*