Saturday, April 22, 2006

"What is church, Curious Servant?"

Becky asked: "What is church, Curious Servant?"

I think she was keying off this comment in the previous post:

“...We don’t go to church and leave our faith behind at the end of the service. I know these guys. We don’t just do church. We are church...”

I’m sure that many of us would have a variety of answers to that seemingly simple question.

Here are my thoughts:

There is "church" and there is "Church". I think I would also add there is also "The Church".

Lower case "c" church is that building (noun) where we go which holds pews, and Bibles, and such. I would say that lower case "c" church, verb, where we put in time, doing the things that are expected of us. This can be very similar to doing other social, corporate activities: Kiwanis and Rotary meetings, PTA, etc... It may be respectful, even reverent, but can be perfunctory.

Upper case “C” Church is “the body.” We are the church.

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. --Romans 12:4-5

This means that our Lord is our head, we follow Him, and we offer ourselves up to be a part of a greater whole, to serve the body of Christ. We are the Church.

Lastly, I would say that sometimes the phrase “The Church” is used to describe our faith as an entity which spans generations, moving throughout time. This use is very similar to the previous usage, in that we make up the whole, but it also implies a focus on the institution of The Church which is a little different than seeing ourselves as simply, joyfully, parts of a whole.

I suppose it is all about the context of when the word is used. I especially love the use of it which puts me in the Lord’s will. I want to be the Lord’s will.

Which is the whole point of that previous post. Passion. Living passionately for Him is a joy. My Moon Howlin’ buddies understand that.


Joe said...

When I think of the church, I think of a body, the body of Christ. The only earthly body He has today.

Each of us is a part of that body, and for the body to function correctly each of its parts must work right.

True, some of us are spleens, some pituitary glands, some bile ducts and some feet and hands, but when any one of those hurt, the whole body hurts.

Thanks for the thought provocation.

Jim said...

Good, C.S. I'm with both you and 'joe' on this.
But sometimes I tease that The Church is the one that Jesus started with Peter.
I go on to say Peter was, therefore, the first Pope.
Of course I have to back pedal a lot to get out of that.
Even now, that idea might not be all wrong?

Keep going with your Moon Buddies. We have a local columnist, Leon Hale--I link to him--who is now in his mid 80s. His Buds are now dying off, there are only six of them left now. But they have been meeting almost forever.

Ame said...

Our pastor said this weekend: "When we are babies, we need to be fed by someone else. When we are children we can hold the spoon and feed ourself. When we become mature, we feed others."

Hence, becoming Church . . . you, fellow believer in Christ Jesus, and me . . . growing up together . . . going to church for what it can do for me - like a baby; going to church for what I can do for me - like a child; and growing into going to church to teach and guide and lead others - like a mature adult.

All are the church; all are members of the same body with Christ as the Head; all at different "stages" of growth and development with Almighty God. And, hopefull, all growing toward and reaching maturity so we can be useful to our God . . . through the church as He designed it to be . . . and as the church :) Pretty cool, isn't it?!!!

jollybeggar said...

yep- ame's comment which resonates with ephesians 4 also makes me think of adolescents: different body parts at different stages of growth- big feet, small hands... it's no wonder she can sometimes be so clumsy. still, we continue to be equipped by Amighty God in all things to further bring him glory, yeah?

hey c.s.- nice bit about capital letters. it reminded me of the conversations that we have where new evangelicals ask about the word 'catholic' in the apostles' creed. capital letters carry with them important significance in some cases, and purely grammatically functional roles in others. perhaps that's why i rarely bother to use them except where it bears some heart/soul merit.

jollybeggar said...

the 'she' in my comment is the bride of Christ, by the way... didn't want to sound like i was talking about you, ame!!!

blessings : )

curious servant said...

I try to be careful in how I write... my grammar, my spelling, punctuation, use of capitals.

I break the rules of grammar carefully (and often). Those rules are there for good reasons and when I break them I have a good reason for doing so.

The first time I used the word "he" in refernce to Jesus I decided that it need to be emphasized somehow, that Hi was/is/always will be, more than any other man... that He is THE man. So I consistently capitalize that word.

The one exception that comes to mind is the post about the beggar on the street . I used the lower case "h" because I didn't want to give it away who He was. Which was the point of that post... the Lord can come to us at anytime... will we always recognize Him?

jollybeggar said...

"will we always recognize Him?"

as long as we're having fun with semantics, let's consider the word 'recognize' for a moment.

recognition can be either passive or active. to recognize in the passive sense probably just means to be able to remember who someone is when you see them again after a period of absense... like when Jesus comes through the clouds of glory and every knee bows and every tongue confesses that he is Lord.

to actively recognize is, in my view, to ascribe to one some honour or the acknowledgement of a great accomplishment. as we read in revelation when the angels and the living creatures all lay facedown in heaven with 'holy holy holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come...'

so will we always recognize Him? i can't wait for the day when 'always' is unencumbered by cause and effect and linear complication, being instead the eternal 'now.'

yes, our greatest calling is to always recognize (active) Him. however, some days i have trouble even recognizing (passive) Him because of the din of life on fallen planet earth.

as trent reznor (nine inch nails)put it figuratively, and i repeat literally:

"goddamn this noise inside my head."

one day 'always' will be without beginning or ending- simply a state of perpetual being... until then i share my loves and fishes with anyone in need of them, in recogniton of all that he has done in and for me so far.

blessings, man.

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