Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Quid est Ecclesia?

What is the Church?
Old Testament terminology equates it to the Temple. The first temple was the Tabernacle or the Tent of Meeting. Everywhere the Jewish nation went they would set up a place to where the priests and Moses could go to God and talk to Him, sacrifice, pray, and worship God. When the physical Temple was built by Solomon all of the symbols and items from the Tabernacle were placed inside, most importantly the Ark placed behind the Veil. The Temple was divided into parts. Depending on who or what you are is where you could go inside the Temple. But only those close enough to God were allowed to go behind the Veil, the curtain that symbolicaaly separates man from God, which Jesus's death caused to be torn in two. For more information on the temple see The point here being that no matter where God's people are there is God as well, permanently.
New Testament terminology equates it to us. This new temple is what we are. The Church are not individuals though. The Church is a body. Some are hands. Some are feet. Some are speakers. Some are seers. But these both have something in common and its the same connection the Old Testament Temple had; God is always there. And if God is always there how can you let worldly ideas and actions into the Church and/or Temple?

Keep in mind, the church is not the Church. Small "c" means thet building. Capital "C" means Christ's body.
The Church is suppose to be:
  1. Spirit-led, not man-led
  2. Glorifying God, not humanistic
  3. Use of gifts to help serve people and God, not show casing human ability
  4. Holy, not worldly
  5. An organism, not an organization
  6. Loving, compassionate, hospitable
  7. Witnesses!
But what has the Church become?
  1. Leaders with egos that can not see past their own accomplishments to see the hurt in some.
  2. Worried about growth in numbers instead of growth in spirit.
  3. Entertainment focused and "jamming" instead of true worship (putting God first).
  4. Lost in culture and becoming immune to the world's sickness.
  5. Business and less personal, more worried about reputation than character
  6. Divided, hypocritical, worried about reputation instead of character
  7. Bad examples because the world sees no difference between living a Christian life and a non-Christian life.
The Church is supposed to be separate from the world for we are not part of this world. Yes, we have to live in it and deal with it but nowhere in the Bible does it say we are to become part of it. The book Animal Farm, although not about Christianity, ends exactly the way what the Church has become.
  • "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to, and from pig to man again but already it was impossible to say which was which."
The pigs who were supposed to be different and make a change ended up taking on what the humans were doing and in the end became just as bad as humans. Now, we are all sinners, so do not take away from this Thought that Christians are "better". That is far from the truth. What it is saying is we are supposed to act better. We are supposed to change the world. But the Church has become so liberal and weak, has watered down the message of Christ so much, has lost the true meaning of worship so much, that the culture ended up changing it. We have allowed the culture to change sermons, our service to people, our charity, our education, and the worst is we allowed it to change our worship. A non-Christian would say that is a good thing because it would make the Church easier to deal with. But due to this changing the Church has become insincere and less relevant to this world. Ask Europe.
Yet, the big problem is those who are supposed to be temples do not live holy and don't see the problem. They want to justify their own beliefs and actions. Church leaders get egos and prideful and blinded. They look for validation from friends and family. The people find excuses to not live outside the culture. The Church is dying because it is not being the Church. The Church is supposed to be a witness to the world. The Temple (you) is with God always. So, how can we as the Church as a whole or as an individual Temple allow the culture inside?

And the last thing, the Church is not INSIDE a building. It goes OUT to the world. Too many people think the church building is the place to get saved. No, technically the church building is for the Church. You get saved in your heart, not a building. But still the church building is there for a reason as well. It is a place of worship and education but it is also a place where people can feel safe and comforted; a haven, if you will. The building is a symbol of where someone cango who is feeling down and out because the world has beaten up on them. When people come into the church building they want to feel safe. They want to forget their troubles that the world and culture has caused them. Yet, what does the Church offer? Programs, sermons, and worship that is filled with the same culture that destroyed the individual in the first place, and mostly just to get a good reputation in the community. It's like an alcoholic goes to church and the Church offers them a drink and people think the church is cool then.
After reading this many will try and rationalize that reaching the culture means we have to use their ways to bring them in. Jesus went into the culture, He did not become part of it. This is not to say that church buildings cannot hold fun events and be entertaining to crowds. But the event has to be real and sincere, it is not a place to showcase one's talents for their own glory. Coffee and donuts never saved anyone. How far can worship service use secular ideas before true worship is sacrificed? Where is the line? Answer: it should stay out as a piece of worship, unless there is a point to it.

Other Thoughts you need to read for more explanation:


  1. Great post. Just a few comments :)

    I think the imagery of the Temple is interesting and powerful, because in lots of ways Christ is also referred to as the Temple replacement. No longer do we connect with God via certain techniques or places, but through Christ. The fullness of God dwells in Christ. If the Temple has been superseded by Christ, how can the church also be compared to the Temple? Its almost a gift to the church — we have been joined to all the privileges of Christ, including having God dwell within us! Including having people connect to God through us.

    One interesting trend which is gaining headway these days, is the idea of ‘relationship not religion’, and ‘organism not organisation’. I can see where this trend is coming from, and I agree that we these things need to be emphasised in today’s church climate. However, these things are not true dichotomies — you don’t need to sacrifice religion and organisation to gain relationship and organism-like function. Obviously not, because the Bible talks about having all of them as good things. But religion is much easier to fake than relationship, and when true relationship exists (with each other and God), true religion will follow. So I would tend to emphasise these things as well, but I don’t want to miss out on the benefits of Biblical church organisation and true formal religion. One of the local church’s challenges is to get the balance right.

    Another way to summarise the purpose of the Church is that we are a display of the ‘manifold wisdom’ of God. Both to fellow Christians and to non-Christians, regardless of whether people take notice or how they react. This includes all the purposes you listed — his holiness and glory, his grace and mercy, his faithfulness and steadfastness, his order and authority, his power (supernatural and subtle), his Gospel message, and his ability to do it all through the weak things of this world.

    I really like the words of Christ as contrasted to the popular saying ‘In the world, but not of the world’. This saying implies we can’t help being in the world, but we can sure work our hardest to be not of it. Christ worded it differently in his prayer at the end of John - ‘they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world… As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world’. The implication is we cannot help being not of the world (if we are truly joined to Christ), but we can sure work our hardest to full fill our mission within it. Just a subtle change in focus, but it makes a difference.

    Finally, I like your point about leaving stuff out of worship unless it has a point. In fact, all of life should be like this. Our question with everything should not be ‘can we allow it? Because we really want it (maybe for good reasons)…’. It should be ‘is this the BEST use of time and resources to draw everyone closer to God?’

  2. Great write up! You raise many questions that we could answer differently. I think a relevant question we can ask is; how far can we take Paul's "become a Jew to a Jew and Greek to a Greek" idea before we are stepping into being of the world?
    Jesus followed His Jewish culture, but modified it to what was truly relevant and real. Paul also used Greek culture to witness to them.

    I am not too sure whether culture is to be seen as a negative or a positive per say. Much of the time, I believe it comes down to what the motive is behind using aspects of culture.

    I second what you say about the church not necessarily being a place for evangelism. It is a place for believers to fellowship and worship God. We should stop trying to save the saved and reach out for the unsaved :)

  3. Sorry I should say "We should NOT ONLY develop current disciples within the church but search out new disciples from outside the church".

  4. One day we are going to worship together face to face my brothers. I enjoy reading your comments. One of my friends really disagrees with me and actually played a song called "Get Lucky" by a band called Daf Punk. Don't know what that means in NZ but here in the US, well, I am sure it is the same thing. This song was played while people were coming into worship and his idea was if he plays popular songs of the culture then the unchurched will feel more comfortable. I went to his website and tried to explain the problem here but the response was less than stellar.

  5. Joshua,

    Yes it is true that the Church is an organization as well. There are aspects of business, order, and authority. But too many foucs on business and lose the focus on soul winning.

    In the world NOT of it. Yes. One thing the yong man said in his response to me was that as soon as I step outside I am in the culture. So I guess that was his excuse to validate what he was doing.


    Thanks. Amen.

    If you two don't mind I posted this onmy site as well. Would you mind reposting your comments? I want your ideas to be more widely known.

    You guys rock!

  6. "What is the church? Where is the line?" JESUS CHRIST

    I would have to say the line or measure or rule or guide or principle or reason that governs all things in the church fundamentally & inherently is defined in Christ.

    "...holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God." Col 2:19

    The Church universally & historically has expressed itself in many different ways, and I think the controlling thing at the bottom of it all, governing the many different traditions from church to church needs to be the glory of Jesus, Him being the central focus of all activity & community & diversity within it.

    "And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." Ephesians 1

    It seems that all distortions & abuses normally always go astray on Jesus somehow or other, whether it is setting aside or covering up or misplacing or replacing Him, when the Father has set Him forth to be preeminent in all things.

    "And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." Col 1:18

    I often think about the different traditions we have from church to church, and I think that the variety & uniqueness of expression from place to place is a good thing when Jesus is magnified in His holiness through it, being treasured in it.

    "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation...'" Rev 5:9

  7. Matthew,

    I like what you said. Our goal is Jesus!

    The reason why I did not say the Church is Jesus is because we are not perfect. He is perfect. Our goal is Him but we will never reach that goal until all things are made new.

    We are also called the bride for the groom. Two shall become one only after the wedding.

    But I like all what you have said.