When is our church not a church?
You’ve probably seen the street sign on Mayers Street that points towards Collins Avenue and says ‘Anglican church’. Did you know that sign’s wrong much of the time?
In the first century many churches met in homes (e.g. Romans 16:5, 23; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2), and the New Testament never calls a building a ‘church’. This is because God’s definition of a ‘church’ is much more dynamic—it’s people who are in Christ (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:2 etc.).
A Pastor friend of mine once said: ‘For the church that God is building … is not a building”—which is exactly right. God is building his church—a glorious, innumerable throng of people saved by his grace in Christ. God gives you and me a real part to play in his awesome purpose! The Church is also God’s demonstration to demons and Satan of his wisdom, power and love in the gospel of Jesus (Ephesians 3:10). This is an amazing thought. It also helps us to love God’s worldwide Church, and The Good Shepherd Anglican Church, because we see just how much our God loves and treasures his people. It also fires up our enthusiasm to serve here at TGS, because we are building an eternally beautiful thing.
Buildings can be very helpful and useful for ministry—as our buildings here definitely are. We should thank both God for them and for the people whose decisions and money have provided them.
Church is people, and so the street sign is wrong (a church that’s not a church) when there aren’t people here who praise God and encourage one another (instead, it’s ‘just’ a building). However, let us be in awe of God’s awesome, eternal purpose that he is bringing to fulfilment—to present to himself a beautiful Church on the day Christ returns. For that is a church that is always a church … and always worth our while!
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