One of the most misused and misunderstood words in our society
today is the word “church.” Even my abbreviated Webster’s Dictionary lists seven definitions ranging from a building to a denomination. But when Jesus used the term, He meant something by it that is simply not in the language or the definitions of today. As He first used it in the New Testament it comes to us in the Greek and literally means the “called out ones.” He meant to say by its use that there would be a people, wholly unlike any other, who would be bound together in an enterprise so dynamic that nothing would alter its purpose. That is why He told the Apostle Peter: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” He certainly did not have in mind a building or even a denomination when He said that.
In view of that, I am sure He must cringe when He hears us talk about “going to church,” as if it is something we can not only “go to” but “come back from.” With such confusion we often miss what He had in mind. We who have committed ourselves to the One who died for us are ”the church.” We are not individuals who happen to be dues-paying members of a religious club. We are sons and daughters in the Lord’s family and integral parts of a “body” of which He is the Head. There is not only the hint of great privilege here but of great power and influence. “The church” was never meant to be a part of our lives like the PTA or the YMCA. It was meant to be a force in our lives, empowered by God, which would forever change everything we touch. In our stereotypical thinking we not only separate church from state but church from business, from education, from politics, from almost everything except what we happen do with our Sunday mornings. But what Jesus did to establish His church would forever make it mpossible to compartmentalize our lives in such a way. He who has called us out of darkness and into His light, who has transferred us from our lost condition nto His eternal Salvation, will not allow us to remain on such shallow ground. He calls us to recognize who we really are: victors, conquerors, overcomers in this life. We should be proud of our present situation and our promised inheritance and begin to view everything in life from such an exalted position. No wonder so many in the persecuted churches of Asia and Africa would rather be jailed or put to death than to give up what they have in Christ. They know who they really are. Would to God we all knew what they know!
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship