As I go through Facebook statuses this morning, there is a message developing. It began with this thought: the church is suppose to change you, you are not suppose to change the church. Then, by the Spirit’s prompting, I saw just how wrong this statement is.
First, let’s rightly establish what a church is. Here in America, we’ve come to believe that the church is the meeting house that devout folks go each week. Well, if the church is a building, then that building certainly has no power to change a human life.
There are so many people who begin attending a place of worship and after several months have a list of what they want to change about the way it is operated. They want to change how services are conducted, what songs are led, what the pastor preaches on, etc. How is it possible for Acts 2:1-4 to be accomplished and for Acts 2:41 to occur if we who are in the building don’t come together in prayer with one goal of heart? There maybe some things that should change in our places of worship — but maybe the biggest change should be in US.
So, what is the church if it isn’t a building? According to my concordance the Church is “the called out ones,”, and the term is applied to the body (group) of Believers (1 Cor. 12:27,28), the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23) — and it tells me that we are ONE body (1 Cor. 12:18-24).
So, if people who have been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus are really the ones who ARE the church, and if Christ is the Head of the church, His body, then it is only Christ who can transform us from who we once were into a people after God’s own heart.
When people who are not part of the body come into our services they see and hear things that are meant to edify the body. So, they don’t understand what they see and hear and they want to change things to make it more ‘user friendly’. Are we only edifying ourselves in our services or are we also speaking in a language that those outside the body can comprehend?
The way I read Acts 2 is the Body of Believers were gathered together in a house and they were all praying and believing for a common goal. Scriptures says that where 2 or 3 of you are gathered in My (Jesus) Name, there I am in the midst of you. So, while they were praying, the Spirit of God came and lighted on each one of them, and those in the house could see what was happening. This part was for their own edification. But, then something else happened. They began speaking in the languages of the people who lived in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. These folks were not well-schooled students, and they must have been fairly loud, because they began to draw a crowd. When the crowd heard the Good News message being spoken in their own languages, they were amazed. They didn’t know it, yet, but God had orchestrated this part for their salvation. And many that heard the Words of Life received the message with gladness and were added to the body of Christ that day.
I don’t believe those believers were shut up in a house, behind closed doors and drawn curtains. Nor do I believe the people outside actually walked into the house where the Believers were. I believe what began in that house, spilled out into street where thousands, who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast, heard the wondrous works of God. The kicker is that when Peter stood up among them and began to preach, it wasn’t a “feel good” message. No! In fact, the writer of Acts records that when the people who gathered heard Peter’s message they were cut to the quick and asked, “what must we do?” And Peter told them to “repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:37, 38
Romans 10:14-17 says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘LORD, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
“There is a way which seems right to a person but in the end its ways are death.” Proverbs 14:12 “In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of this world. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.” Romans 12:2
Do you ( I ) want change in our houses of worship? If so, then we must allow Christ, who is the Head of the body, change us. If we continue to try to change things to suit us or to draw others, we are going to continue to look and act more and more like the world we are sojourners in. However, if we allow Christ to transform us from the inside out, then as the Spirit of directs we can go outside the building with wondrous words of life for a lost and dying world. But let me leave you with this today: 1 Cor. 12: 31 – 13:1, “but earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”