About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Expression Of Church
Every Sunday, and often
during the week, people go to church.
Some go because they want to.
Others go because that’s what they always do.
They’re afraid not to go lest they be stricken with a deadly
case of guilt.
I ask. “Do we really go
to church when we go to church?” That’s
not a trick question. I just
wonder how we can go to church when we are the church.
How can you go someplace when you are that place?
The church building you
see on the street corner isn’t the church.
I know most of us know this, but if we really do know this, why
do we continue to say “we’re going to church?”
You might say, “it’s only a matter of words, don’t worry
about it.” Well, I‘m not
worrying about it, but it does concern me.
Jesus told us that what’s in our hearts, our mouths will speak.
If our hearts really understand the truth about church, why
don’t our tongues speak the truth?
I don’t think we understand
the truth on this matter as well as we think we do.
I’ve said this before. I’m
not really happy with the word “church” because it doesn’t express
the intent of Biblical thinking on the subject.
Church consists of people who Jesus has called out of the world
to be a living expression of who He is.
As Jesus was the exact representation of His Father while He was
on earth, so we should be a close proximity of a representation of
Jesus. The building down the
street that we call a church is no more an expression of who Jesus is
than any other building in the neighbourhood.
Every so often I walk
down our street to talk with a Christian brother. He’s a school
crossing guard. Ironically
enough, right across the street from where he helps the children cross
the street is a church building. I
said we talk to one another, but really we end up preaching to each
other. Our time together on
the street corner is an expression of church.
Yes, right there on the corner of Chatham and Victoria, we gather
together in Jesus’ name for mutual encouragement.
We’re not a church, but we certainly are an expression of
Each Tuesday night a few
of us gather around a kitchen table to study the Bible.
Phrase by phrase, word by word, we systematically seek to
understand what the Bible teaches. We
aren’t a church. We’re
an expression of church.
From time to time myself
and a few other men come together for prayer in my friend’s living
room. Again, we are not a
church, but we are an expression of church.
When you come together in
a church building each Sunday, you aren’t the church either, even
though the sign out front says you are. You’re simply an expression of
I’m using the term
“expression of church” because it more
accurately reflects Biblical thinking than the phrase “going to
church.” When true
believers come together to do anything in the service of the Lord, they
are expressing an aspect of church.
It doesn’t matter how many people come together either, it’s
still an expression of church. Therefore,
the crossing guard and I are just as much an expression of church on the
street corner as the people who gather in the building across the
street. And I dare say that we might well be a more vibrant expression
of church than those gathered in the building.
If you view church this
way, then you view church much differently than the typical “church
goer”. The building, the
scheduled meetings, the number of people gathered together, are not the
important issues to you. What
is important to you is who you gather with, what you do when you’re
together, and how you express the life of Jesus to others.
In my thinking, whatever
you do in the service of Jesus with other Christian brothers or sisters
is an expression of church. When
Jesus spoke of two or three gathering together, He had no particular
place or time in mind. The
issue for Him was being gathered together as His representatives, and
serving Him in the process.
Jesus said that when we
come together as His representatives, He’d be with us.
I believe the reverse is also true.
If we gather together in our own name, or a organization’s
name, I don’t think Jesus is obligated to be with us.
I think history confirms that.
Therefore, it is
important for us to understand church in the way Jesus understood it,
not in the way our traditions have taught us. Church
is all about us being Jesus’ representatives on earth and doing what
He wants us to do. If you
understand the word “representative”, you know that a representative
of anything represents that thing to those who have no understanding of
that thing. Simply put, we not only represent Jesus to fellow
Christians, but also to the world around us.. I’d say it’s hard to
represent Jesus to non-believers if most of our representation takes
place in a church building where non-believers aren’t present.
Whatever we do as an
expression of church should be something Jesus gives us permission to
do. So my encouragement for
us all is to not limit our expression to the traditions that have been
passed down to us. The only
limitations should come from the lips of Jesus.
That being the case, we need to understand church as He