In the past few months we’ve been socially distanced from our churches. Not only are we not permitted to worship together in one place, but we’ve not been able to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, because of a pandemic. Our lives have changed in numerous ways, but we’ve been able to maintain a connection with our church through the internet, yet we long for the day when we can again join together with fellow Christians and praise God as a group of believers.
This time of separation has caused me to think seriously about the actual building – the facade – the physical edifice. When we plan to build a church there are things to consider. What does it look like to the worshipper? Is it inviting as a place to spend time with God and fellowship with others like you? Is it equipped with all the technological equipment to reach those who are homebound – or tuned into the internet for immediate Bible references? Is it a place that is well maintained? Is it a place of refuge for those who feel lost? Is it a sanctuary for those who have strayed from God and His Word? Is it beautiful in design – its outward trappings – its glorious art work?
When we make a decision on which church to attend, are we looking at the outward appearance of the building? Are we putting our reliance on things that will make our worship more meaningful to us? Are we looking at the friendship of the people and the acceptance shown towards all? Are we, once we become active in that church, subject to all the behind the scenes skirmishes and petty arguments that really have nothing to do with worship.
The church is not about a building. It’s not there to make us feel better about ourselves. It’s not always a cohesive body. Many of the members of the body are subject to making wrong choices, finding fault in others, judging and forgetting the One who rules over that body.
Certainly a church must follow a set of rules. They have a constitution, by-laws and a number of leaders of committees to care for the church from an administrative standpoint. Right now we’re subject to the governing bodies who tell us to keep our churches closed. Still the church is not immune to making human mistakes. We’re all sinners in God’s eyes. Had it not been for Jesus, our sins would continue to plague us and cause us to fall into hopelessness.
When you get down to the nuts and bolts of a church, there will always be a difference in opinion on the maintenance and future growth of the structure. There will be arguments on what to physically fix first. Many feel they aren’t being heard and become frustrated. Many get tired of fighting these minor battles and walk away rather than getting to the core of the matter.
God is not impressed with outward appearances. We can spend millions on places of worship, but to Him it makes no difference. “Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” This gathering place is a temple to give thanks, praise, sing, hear Gods Word and bring our petitions to Him. We don’t need to make an impression on God. We certainly shouldn’t try to make an impression on those we wish to attend our church. The Bible and its truth are sufficient.
God’s Word is our great heritage – a gift from our Creator. We each have something to bring to the body of the church. Everyone has a unique purpose to the advancement of His truth. If the church is focusing too much on its image, it has begun to cover up its core teachings. No amount of adornment is going to bring us closer to God.
It’s not about us. The church is all about God and His plan for each individual member. When we mask the truth of the Bible with outward appearances, we’re opening the door to Satan and his minions. He will attack from the inside out. Our assurance is that Jesus already conquered death and sin, and we will inherit God’s kingdom in eternity free from all sin. He is the living, breathing, heart of the church and He willingly gave His life to breathe life back into our sin sick souls.
No matter where you worship today, remember that Christ is the center of your praise. He alone deserves honor and glory. He provides us with places even in our own captivity to worship Him. Once the pandemic ends and we’re called back to worship in our church buildings, may our hearts remember how we longed to be in His house and thank Him for making it possible again.