The Real Church
CHURCH! If you are like most people, the picture that immediately comes to mind when the word Church is mentioned is that of a building, usually with the symbol of a cross on it and if you are more “spiritual” that building may have a tall spire with a bell, stained glass windows etc., and the list could go on. A more contemporary mindset would give you an image of an auditorium,with lights, lasers, foot-tapping music and an entertaining, motivational talk by an in-vogue, uber-cool, swag speaker who knows the pulse of his audience and panders to their itching ears.
In Mathew 16:18, Jesus said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it...” What do you think Jesus meant when He said He would build His “Church”? He certainly did not mean that he was going to construct a building or a monument. We know He had something else in mind — something greater, grander and much more powerful.
There is beauty and majesty in the many church monuments built. A trip to Europe, for example, cannot be complete without a visit to a cathedral — one that has stood the test of time for many centuries. People, Christian or otherwise, pay good money to go and visit these relics. And most times that is all they are, just relics — a surviving memorial of something past.
Jesus, went on to say, in Mathew 16:19 “...And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” [As an aside, the correct rendering of this is: I will give you the authority (keys) of the kingdom of heaven for you to bind on earth what has been declared bound in heaven and loose on earth what has been declared lose in heaven]
May I submit to you that the Church, Jesus our LORD had in mind, is an entity that would literally march to the gates (power centres) of hell and tie up (bind) the enemy so that he does not have freedom to do whatever he wants to and release (let loose) the glory and goodness of God. Not a monument or a social gathering.
The most vibrant churches of today are the ones you cannot locate on a map, name, nor follow on social media or otherwise. These are the churches, that if you want to become a part of, you have to literally kiss your life and well-being goodbye. Think Chinese or Middle-Eastern churches. Churches that are not known by their name, or their pastor’s name nor by the name worship music labels (no offense intended). These are churches that know fully well what the consequences are if they are found out by their governments — imprisonment, beatings, rapes, brutal torture and more. These churches are living out the reality of Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. They don’t care about the destruction of their bodies. That is the reason, I believe, why they are growing in leaps and bounds. They don’t build walls, in fact they can’t. But they are on the move! Very often the average church of today thinks that it cannot survive unless it has built some strong “walls”. Not just physical walls but also unseen walls of language, race, ethnicity, doctrine, tradition, denomination and so much more. But walls are limiting...only this much and no more. Walls contain. Walls prevent true growth.
Makes me wonder. What sort of a church do I want to be part of? A church that is visible and popular or one that is not so visible but is silently marching forward and steadily decimating the enemy along the way?! Like the church we find in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. A church without walls!!!
About the Author
Marshall is a lover of Jesus and a student of His word. His passion is to be a father in the body of Christ, to see himself and others grow into Christ-likeness.
Husband to Subhashini, and father to Akil and Ashrita, Marshall teaches at a Bible School in Bangalore where he currently makes his home.