This may seem like a silly question, but I believe it is one that needs to be addressed. There are many different ideas that come to mind when we think about the church. Perhaps the most common misconception is that the church is a building. This leads to all kinds of errors. It leads us to believe that the place where we worship is like the Old Testament temple—the place where God’s Spirit dwells. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The scripture is clear that the Lord of heaven and earth “does not dwell in temples built by hands (Acts 17:24).” This truth has some amazing implications. It means that the building where we worship is not really the house of God! I know that we often refer to the building as the house of the Lord, but that is not really true. God does not dwell in this building. He dwells inside of us! Every church building in America could be bulldozed tomorrow and the church would still be standing. Structures and facilities are nice, but they don’t change lives! That means that the church is not a place but a people…but what kind of people?
Another one of those misconceptions is that the church is a gathering of righteous people who have no personal problems with sin. It is true that the scripture refers to believers as “saints.” The blood of Christ gives us victory over sin, and God attributes his righteousness to our account. However, this does not in any way diminish the fact that our human nature is with us until the day we die. We must die daily to the works of the flesh in order for the fruit of the Spirit to be abundant in our lives. The church is not a gathering of problem-free people. It is a group of people who bring their problems to Jesus.
The church is also not about culture. To be sure, there are many different cultural expressions of the church. But, we have to decide whether we are more interested in preserving our culture or proclaiming our Christ! I am honest when I say to you that there is nothing about our tradition that I am not willing to lay aside if it will help us increase the fame of Jesus in this community.
The church is the Body of Christ. We are an organism designed to declare the greatness of God in this world. I would like to spend several weeks dealing with this truth in our next sermon series, “What is the Church?” Would you commit to being present in one of our two Sunday services each week and to bringing a friend as we demonstrate the love of God in our community?