About Jesus Steve Sweetman
reason why I no longer like the word "church" is not because
of those who claim "they go to church", even though that claim
isn't Scripturally possible. It's
because today's concept of church isn't Biblical.
In fact much of today's church is more of a reflection of its
members than it is of Jesus, even though He is the head of the church.
(Ephesians 5:23) So, if we
read the word "church" in our English Bibles with today's
popular misconception, we completely miss New Testament teaching about
church. We then pass on this
misunderstanding to those around us, as we've done for quite some time
word "church" that's found in our English Bibles is translated
from the Greek word "ecclesia".
"Ecclesia" in first century Roman culture, when the New
Testament was written, wasn't a religious word as our word
"church" is today. "Ecclesia"
meant any group of people who were joined together for a specific
purpose. For example, in
Acts 19:32 and 41 "ecclesia" is portrayed as a "riotous
mob", and no, the mob wasn't a church in this instance.
"Christian ecclesia" is simply a group of people who belong to
the Lord Jesus for the purpose of representing Him to the world.
In fact Jesus said that He'd put together "His own
ecclesia" in Matthew 16:18.
this in mind, I'd like to quote a few Bible verses and substitute the
word "church" with the words "those who belong to
Jesus", or something similar. If
we could make this substitution in our thinking, in our vocabulary, and
even in our Bible translations, we'd better understand church.
16:18 in the NIV reads, "... I (Jesus) will build my church and the
gates of Hades will not overcome it".
My version reads, "… I (Jesus) will knit together 'people
who belong to me' and the gates of Hades will not overcome them".
Notice that I replaced the impersonal word "it" that's
in the NIV with the more personal word "them".
Church should be more about "them" than it is about
"it", don't you think?
said that the gates of Hades would not overtake "those who He has
knit together as His own people".
He did not say that our attempts at building churches would be
protected from Hades. This
is why many so-called "churches" are falling by the wayside
1:1 and 2 in the NIV reads, "Paul … to the churches in Galatia". My version reads,
"Paul … to 'the bodies of people who belong to Jesus' in the province
3:14 in the NIV reads, "to the angel of the church at Laodicea". My version reads,
"to the angel 'of those who belong to Jesus' in
will say I'm splitting ecclesiastical hairs at this point, but I don't
think I am. Saying "to
those who belong to Jesus in
the word "church" with the words "those who belong to
Jesus" puts the emphases on real live and active human beings who
belong to Jesus. Our faulty
concept of church puts the emphasis on corporate organizational
structures and all that goes along with them.
We can no longer afford to maintain this faulty understanding
that hinders us from properly representing Jesus to the world.
Corinthians 16:19 in the NIV reads, "the churches in the province
in case you think I'm tampering with the Word of God, I remind you that
I derive my version of the above verses from the meaning of the word
"ecclesia" as it was used by both Jesus and Paul.
I don't derive my version from an English word that has lost its
meaning, or, maybe never had a Biblical meaning in the first place.
point is simple. Chur…,
or, "that word we'll now attempt to stop using", is simply
people who belong to Jesus and are actively representing Him in everyday
life. If you don't belong to
Jesus, it doesn't mater what chur…; "O, there's that word
again", you say you go to.
saying these things, I'm not ignoring functional structure which
includes leadership within those who belong to Jesus.
I'm simply putting these things in their proper
Biblical place. Jesus
doesn't categorize His people into a myriad of doctrinal and
organizational structures. He
isn't a corporate CEO. If He
was, we should turn our offering plates into stock options and offer
them on the New York Stock Exchange.
Can you imagine the average "church goer" seeing the
value of his shares in the "
also doesn't differentiate between those who sit in pews from those who
sit on platforms and stand behind pulpits.
Actually, the words "sit", "pew",
"platform", and "pulpit", have little to do with New
Testament thinking. Jesus
sees one body of people belonging to Him with the sole purpose of
representing Him to a lost world. Each
person belonging to Jesus has his own particular part to play in
representing Jesus. No one
person is more important than the other.
That should put the pulpit and platform in proper perspective.
I belong to Jesus, I belong to every other person who belongs to Jesus
as well, despite our differences. That being said, Jesus has placed
individuals in close proximity to a few others who belong to Him.
From these relationships, ministry to others should emerge.
Emerging ministries, by the mere definition of the word
"ministry", means they are not self-serving, as many
ministries are. Ministry is
serving others in the attempt to bring them into relationship with
Jesus. What we want to call
"church" is all about people who belong to Jesus, selflessly
serving those who don't belong to Jesus.