Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Had an interesting discussion last night among a few other Christians about the definition of the church. As near as I can see it from the original examples, the church was the collected group of people who believed in Jesus and continued in His work. There were recordings of those people meeting in homes, in synagogues, and in public common areas. Groups ranged in size from two through dozens up to several thousand in outdoor meetings. People recognized them by their clear conviction that Jesus was the Messiah and the herald of the Kingdom of God on earth. People were drawn to them because, everywhere they went, they worked miracles and showed compassion. It was largely this display of supernatural power and clarity of thought on the modern work of God that distinguished them from their own spectators. It's made me revisit the question of what defines us as The Church today. Are we hundreds or thousands of people who own a building, handfuls of people who meet in homes, followers of traditions handed down from our forebears? Too often our first answer is this or that denomination that meets in a crowd of so many in such and such a location. I fail to find where any of that is actually in the Bible as the definition of the church. There were seven churches spoken to in the book of Revelations, and I don't recall how big any of them were or where they met. I do recall some of them had identity issues and bickered with other Christians about how to conduct themselves as the Kingdom of God. I've seen too many movies where the king walks into the chamber were all the lords are arguing about war and taxes and land. I hope and pray we don't get caught in one of those movies.