I am thankful that God didn't make the church a place. He made the church His people, called by His name, and anywhere we gather together in covenant with one another to worship, pray, teach, and encourage His Spirit will be there...because it's in us.
So often we judge churches by the exterior. We drive by beautiful, new buildings and we think "wow, that church is thriving" or we open a worship bulletin to find a myriad of activities for every age group and think "wow, that church is active".
But we are told in 1 Samuel that God doesn't the outward man. He judges our hearts.
He doesn't care if we have the biggest building or the busiest social calendar. God doesn't judge a church on their community involvement or the size of their staff. And we shouldn't either!
I am reminded of the contrast between the Old Testament temple worship and the early church in the book of Acts.
The Temple built by Solomon was ornate, beautiful, and full of gold, silver, and precious stones. No expense was spared in building the Temple of God. Priests were given Holy garments to wear, singers were dedicated to worship continually, and only the best was given in sacrifice to the One True God.
And yet, the people turned and rebelled from God. A beautiful building and temple attendants did nothing to convict and change the hearts of the people. Repeatedly God admonished them to repent and turn from their wicked ways. He desired obedience, not sacrifice.
Fast forward several hundreds of years to the early church in book of Acts. They had no building and not social director. They weren't contained by walls. They weren't popular. They were persecuted for being a cult, a sect of Judaism
But what do we see?
A group of people who loved and served one another as they loved and served the Lord. Who gave their possession to help the poor, who met together for worship daily, who showed hospitality to one another, who continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and teaching. They were Spirit-filled people living together as a family of faith.
Colossians 3 gives us a beautiful picture of just what a church family like this should look like.
They are to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, and patient.
They are to forgive one another even as the Lord has forgiven them.
They are to put love above all else so that they can live in harmony with one another.
They are to let the peace of Christ govern their heart and their lives.
They are to let the Word of God dwell in them, teaching and admonishing one another.
They are to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual song with thankfulness!
They are to do everything (EVERYTHING!) in the name of the Lord Jesus with thankful heart.
So next time you gather with your church family, I ask you to consider Paul's words in Colossians 3.
Is your church a true, Spirit-filled church? And are you a true church member?
Or are you content to sit by and enjoy a beautiful building with an empty heart?
You see, its not enough just to have your name on the roll book or sit in the pew (or chair!). For our church to be thankful, we the members must be thankful. For our church to dwell in the Word of God, we the ones who gather together must dwell in the Word of God.
So with our without walls,
with or without a praise band and large church staff,
with or without money or position or popularity,
We, the people of God, are the church, and when we gather together in covenant with one another, we become the body of Christ to serve, worship, and teach in Spirit and in Truth.