Church is Not a Place

October 22, 2014

Reblogged from: Matt Rawle

Jesus had died, was raised, and ascended to be with God. The Holy Spirit was given to the apostles who were there in Jerusalem celebrating Pentecost. Peter became full of the Spirit, and preached to the crowd who had gathered. Three thousand people came forward and joined the movement, and scripture says that awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. There is a sense that the crowd experienced an irresistible wonder, a feeling which holds your breath, a righteous fear that the world is new and what that might mean. Whether we call it awe or wonder or fear or reverence, what should take our breath away is that the apostles are the ones through whom the Spirit is working.

Throughout the Gospel story Jesus was the focus of amazement and awe, and now through a miracle of God’s grace, the believers, the faithful, were now able to point to the awe-inspiring activity of God. Jesus says in the Gospel of John, “Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do, and, in fact, will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). In other words, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ was dwelling within them. Their hands were Christ’s hands. Their feet were Christ’s feet. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me,” as Paul would put it. Therefore they were able to accomplish what was thought to be impossible, and the result was awe and wonder and fear, an amazement of a new age.

You see, church is not a place. You are not to go to church. You are called to be the church. You are called to be a community in which people are healed, the hungry are fed, the poor have a place at the table, the outcast are treated as sisters and brothers, where children are offered the best start in life we can muster. Church is not a stagnant proper noun of place, but a verb of action in which the impossible is not only probable but true.

When you make a commitment to the church you are making a commitment to open your eyes to the awe and wonder of what God is doing. In making a commitment you are supporting a place that meets the community’s needs. In making a commitment you are supporting a place where we can gather to worship God, and a place where we grow in love and support of one another. In making a commitment you are supporting a place of transformation where souls are healed. In making a commitment you are supporting the work of God that is transforming the world one person at a time.