Today was the official ministry fair of Calvary Fellowship where all the ministries within the church were showcased and sign-up sheets were presented. Danny’s message was short, but definitely sweet because he focused primarily on what the church actually is. What I’m writing about in here isn’t necessarily what Danny talked about, but I might reference this morning’s message here and there.
From my short college career, I have seen several different types of Christians. I’ve seen conservatives, liberals, radicals, and probably a few heretics. But what I’ve typically seen within the more dedicated ones really comes down to two different groups: those who attend church and those who are the church.
You can really see the difference between a Sunday Christian and a follower of Jesus. A Sunday Christian is exactly that: one who attends on Sunday, but throughout the rest of the week is living his or her life however he or she wants to. I’m sure that we have all been there at one point. I know I have. In fact, the first four or five years of my walk with the Lord was spent in this manner: attending church and doing all the right churchy things, but not actually living it out in my day to day life.
The second category is a little more difficult to be and do. It means that your primary focus is what Jesus wants you to do and then everything else falls behind that. It means you’re not limited to Sunday mornings and that you actually serve out of a renewed mind and heart instead of strictly obligation. You don’t serve because people are pressuring you to serve; you’re serving because you want to serve.
As you can see, these are basically opposite ends of the Christian spectrum. You are either a believer who cares more about your own image or you’re actually gathering with the church because of your love for God and for Jesus. I do not mean to make it seem like I’m in the right and everyone else is in the wrong; I think I would be fulfilling the definition of a religious Christian in that case. No, I am here to simply point out the difference between what American society has made the Christian church and what the Christian church originally was.
The early believers never had anything called services like we do. They weren’t limited to Sunday mornings or even one day a week for that matter; they gathered whenever they needed to, regardless of what they were doing in the secular world. They’d get together for food, for prayer, for worship, and to receive God’s messages. Pastors (or prophets – basically teachers/encouragers) were numerous and there wasn’t any particular one who would do the speaking when they gathered; whoever felt it upon their heart would speak. Certainly there was some form of organization to it all, but it wasn’t structured like we have it today.
As many before me have defined it, church is not a building made by any human hands. It is a body of believers and followers of Jesus Christ who are being transformed collectively and individually by God into who He wants us to be. Throughout Scripture, it is clear that following Jesus is not limited to one day of the week or one week of the month or whatever; there are no limitations because following Jesus is an everyday thing. From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, we are called by God to follow and obey Jesus’ commands.
What I realized this morning is that our church should not be structured by when and where we meet and for how long, but rather who we are, where we’ve been in our lives, and what we’re doing now for Jesus. Reducing the revolutionary movement that Jesus started a couple thousand years ago is reducing the possibility of the world becoming a better place and the possibility of lives being saved. By “being saved” I do not necessarily mean people just turning their lives over to Jesus, but also having their lives transformed through Jesus. Drug addicts becoming clean, alcoholics throwing away the bottle, adulterers controlling their urges and revamping their minds, and the rich helping the poor.
These transformations are impossible if the church sits idle and conducts itself from service to service, Sunday morning to Sunday morning. I would not be where I’m at now had it not been for the church moving outside of its walls. I would still be seeking after my own glory, my own fame, my own agendas. I would still be so full of myself that I would be empty inside. No church movement, no transformations. No transformations, no advancement of God’s kingdom.
What Danny is intending with Calvary has a certain mindset, a certain attitude, that every follower of Jesus should at least consider. Going to service every Sunday morning is good, but if there is no change in the individual’s life and no impact on the collective, then it is a waste. It’d be better off for the person to not even try to be Christian if they aren’t going to commit to it. Danny said two weeks ago that you might as well believe in fairy tales since there’d be no impact on your life.
No, there isn’t a limit for the church. It is not restricted to walls, social statuses, racial backgrounds, political parties, or religious affiliations. The curtain that was torn from top to bottom at the moment of Jesus’ death was a curtain that divided the religious elite from the “sinners,” where the women and Gentiles were allowed to worship. They weren’t “clean” enough to worship with the religious elite. Jesus ended that division by tearing the dividing factor down. Likewise, there should be nothing dividing the church from each other and the secular world.
Danny’s message this morning was specifically directed to Calvary Fellowship. But this does not mean that any other congregation cannot take the encouragement. I think it was Wesley Towne, the pastor at Ekklesia, who put into perspective for me: don’t go to church, be the church. Being the church was never meant to be on one particular day or for a certain amount of time; it was a perpetual, day-to-day thing. It’s time for the followers of Christ to resurrect the passion, the vision, and the commitment of the early church. It’s time to stop putting on the fake Sunday smile and to start opening ourselves up to each other. It’s time to be the church.