Monday, October 31, 2011

The Church?

I heard some comments about communion, and had to dive in.  It's been a few years since Jesus walked among man, over 1500.  Since the time of Christ we've embellished things a bit : )  I can't see the Apostle Paul or Peter standing in front of a group of people, from behind a pulpit, with gold crosses on their robes, organ music playing in the background, as one of them says, "Take this cup..."    I envision the apostles gathering in houses seeking refuge from persecution.  They broke bread together and drank wine, remembering Jesus' sacrifice, and that death isn't the end.  They had seen Jesus horrible crucifixion, and then His resurrection.  Probably the last thing they wanted on top of the house was a big cross identifying it as a place where Christians gathered.

In fact, the early believers used the symbol of a fish to identify themselves to other Christians.  The letters inside the fish mean "fish." They are from the Greek alphabet. They are also the first letters of these words, "Jesus, Christ, God's, Son, Savior."  I wonder if the Romans wondered why they kept drawing fish : ) Times were very hard for them. Yet they gathered, having the strength and courage to continue in the faith.   They were inspired to write the New Testament, even though they knew the consequences.  I am so glad they did, or we would've never known.  All of the disciples died as martyrs.  Yet, they preached the gospel with boldness.  Many sacrifices were made so we could believe. 

From the New Testament we've learned, we can approach God today, because of Jesus sacrifice.  Our bodies are His temple.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own...  1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV

The Church is not a building made by man.  It's people who have accepted Jesus as Savior.  His Church is mobile now.  There isn't a single temple building for us to worship in, or a perfect denomination.  He's in us. in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Romans 12:5 NIV
Jesus said, "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." Matthew 18:19

Jesus has given us confidence to approach God from our homes, our cars, anywhere.  By His blood we are cleansed from our guilty consciences.  We have a great Priest over the worldwide Church, His name is, "Jesus."  Jesus is above all, even Pastors are to serve Him. 
Hebrews 10:19-22
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

We can gather together, in houses, in Church buildings, at picnics, wherever we want to.  I've heard great things about Coffee Shop Bible Studies.  But why should we meet?  To tell each other, "You need to serve the Lord!"  Without knowing what they are doing.  (I've actually been approached this way at Church three times- it's like, "Uh, Hi and how are you today?")  Then I explain my ministry.  After that, I am acceptable.  Did Jesus take a day off?  Maybe my cable was down...
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The reason to gather is so we can encourage each other, not just for formal communion.  And missing a communion service is not a sin. The closer we get to the end times, the more we need to strengthen each other in love and mercy.  We really need to learn how to love each other without judgement.  Some ignore verses 23, 24, and part of 25, and jump to verse 26 claiming if you miss Church, you're sinning and will lose your salvation.

Should we go to Church when we are sick?  Don't think so.  Are we condemned if we miss?  Nope!  But we do miss out and we do need each other.  Some people will completely give up.  They will become angry and deny all they've experienced.  This describes one who has received the knowledge, but not the Lord.  After Christ is denied, there is no other sacrifice to save a soul.  This is not the unforgivable sin, we all go through struggles with unbelief.  And Jesus welcomes us back with open arms when we ask for His forgiveness.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV

These verses have been tied to the Church tradition of formal communion.  To me Jesus is saying to remember His sacrifice always.  I try and thank Him everyday for His sacrifice for me.  It wouldn't surprise me if this is where the tradition to pray before dinner, got started.  Communion at Church is very sacred and holy to me.  A very wonderful thing to partake in.  But this doesn't save my soul, only Jesus can.
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you..." 
Luke 22:19-20 NIV

I have a little charm of a Church building hanging from my car mirror.  It warms my heart to remember the people and good experiences.  My first Pastor was excellent at inspiring us to read the Bible on our own.  He is a great teacher (if he saw this, I'm sure he'd deny it).  I attend Church whenever I can.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33 NIV


  1. Hi Karen, your perspective on church and communion is well received by me. I find it "hits the spot" as my mom used to say.

    Having grow up in a legalistic church which preached it was a sin you needed to confess or you could go to hell if you missed church on Sunday without a very grave reason and also one in which communion was over-emphasized and the Word under-emphasized..I appreciate this very much.

    On the other hand..I also know that when we attend we do so to worship God, learn His Word, fellowship, and serve..and faithfulness in this blesses the Lord, but He sure doesn't want us to get into a legalistic box about it. Legalism according to Paul is not His thing! :) J. <>< <>< <>< \o/

  2. Thanks J! I wasn't sure how this would be received. I agree we go to worship, fellowship, and serve. And the Bible is so important for us to learn. Some churches are harder to find places to serve in than others. But that's ok too.

    I had a cool thought about this today. The disciples wouldn't have had a New Testament like we do- they had the Old Testament of course. I bet they shared testimonies. How cool would it be to hear Peter and Paul giving their testimonies in person? We have many in the Church today with awesome testimonies as well. God bless!

  3. Yes, it is hard to get connected in ministry especially when you are new and no one really knows you very well yet. Our church has a four class process for newbies..(each 3-4 hours) offered over a period of a few months or sometimes week nights for a week.. In these classes areas of service are discerned with the help of those in the church body who are involved in this as their ministry.

    The Followers of the Way, Christians in the early church, did use word of mouth, sermons, testimonies, etc. to spread the good news before anything was written down. The first known written work in the New Testament is I Thessolonians in the Pauline Corpus (letters) written ca. (around) 52-53 a.d. You can see that here:

    I get excited every time I read Paul's letters and the account of his exploits in the Book of Acts. Through that the Spirit is ever telling me something new.

  4. Thanks Anonymous! That sounds like a great way to bring new folks into the Church. Honestly, I can't wait to finish reading through Proverbs so I can get back to the New Testament. I love Paul's letters. I love the whole New Testament. When I consider where the Church started and where we are today it's incredibly exciting. It could only be the hand of God : )

  5. Oh forgot to mention, it may be a little odd but the Lord usually sends me outside the Church for ministry. Like visiting in Nursing Homes, evangelism at work (lunch-time walks), things like that. Once I was in an art store and a lady walked up beside me, she was extremely excited about the paints and stuff. It seemed a bit odd. Then she turned to me and said that she had cancer and needed something to keep her mind busy. When I told her I would pray for her, she blushed and said, "Oh you don't have to do that." So I told her, "It's no problem, prayer is free. I'd be happy to pray for you." She gulped and said, "Thanks." I also have the gift of encouragement (I think it's my strongest gift). I should look for people who need some encouragement at Church.

  6. Nothing odd at all about is what Jesus did in the marketplaces, homes, on the lakeshores, in the hills, and also in the temple..he encountered people wherever they were. And that is what we are to do also.

    Yes, God gives the gift of encouragement. You are an encourager but you also have the gift of the written word. :) J. ZZZZZ nite, nite.

  7. Awww thanks for the encouragement J. God bless you!