If the Christian churches were to disappear today – will people know the church is no longer present within the communities? More specifically, have Christian Churches become a relic of the past? Turn on any Christian radio program, listen to many of the sermons being prepared by some of the well-named theologians and Christian ministers. One will hear the constant bantering of end times and the coming of Christ. Much of this comes about because of what we are hearing on the news about ISIS and the continual conflict in the Middle East. The dismantling of our own Constitution and the relegation of the Christian Church and freedom’s associated with Christianity in our society as a perceived movement of intolerance against modern social acceptance.
This article is not about end times, the middle east conflict, or the supposed post-Christian era we are living in today. What this article is about is how individual Christians are the Church. What it means to be the Church in our communities today and how this impacts and moves us through the times of what many want to refer to as post-modernism. The Christian Church is not a particular building, a house of worship. The Christian church is built on individual collectivism and beliefs. Christians, in essence, are called to be living stones that are continually being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood in order to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5, ESV).
Within the context of our modern culture and society – Christianity and the Christian belief system is viewed as a relic of the past. A cultural shift has occurred in which many view the Bible to no longer have any validation for faith, hope, and guidance. In the Ancient Near East, there are stones that are seen today as dead stones. Meaning, they are mere relics of a past religious belief system and form of worship that we are only having some basic understanding. Today, many people do not erect altars of stones as a form of worship (See Exodus 24:4, ESV).
Christians today have two great admonishments that ought to be lived by. The first is loving God. The second is loving others as we love ourselves. Both of these two admonishments are conjoint commands:
He said to him, ‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like unto it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these commands (Matthew 22:37-40, ESV)
The first principle is based on whether or not we (as individuals) have cultivated a deeply, profound and purposeful relationship with God. This deep caring relationship is not casual, it is not based on a moment of convenience. Every member within the Christian body moves through a life-long process of commitment to God by daily living, communing with and following all precepts. We are essentially a living sacrifice (See Romans 12:1-3, ESV) unto God where we show forth our devotion and priority in seeking him out. This is accomplished through daily prayer, regular scripture study, and aligning and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This rich, deeply cultivated relationship that we engage in with God, develops an authentic deep concern for the welfare of our fellow neighbors. We learn to love them, including our enemies, in the way a Sovereign God is able to show us. We reach out, not in a sense of convenience to someone hurting and broken. No, we reach out to them with a profound deep compassion in recognizing that they are hurting and broken. This brings us to the four main points of our conversation:
- Our relationship with others is driven by our deep affection and authentic relationship with God.
- It is concrete and not abstract where it has become painstakingly practical and profound in our act of service toward others.
- These deeply profound relationships we cultivate in our lives are authentic and a way of life.
- Becoming an authentic Christian body is based on individual members who possess a driven passion of authentic love toward God and reaching out in an authentic love toward others within our communities.
In essence – the Church is not built on ideologies, specific doctrines to hold to, creeds, or mission statements. The Early Christian Church of Jewish and Gentile Christians were based on a love for God, the message of God, and the fellowship of one another:
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47, ESV)
Being the Church today is not a building, a temple, or a place of worship. It is about individuals coming together in a collective deep and profound love of God and one another. Being the Church is relational rather than doctrinal. Yes, while Biblical doctrine is prominent in identifying true Christian beliefs from false Christian beliefs, the premise of the Church is a deeply committed and profound cultivation of relating to a Sovereign God whom we serve in order to develop deeply profound committed relationships with others. Through our sacred sacrifices, many may still come to know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent because we emulate the divine love of God.