It’s now been a little more than nine months since I’ve had a home church. Spiritually speaking, life has not been easy. Actually, even pragmatically speaking, life has not been easy. This “real world” that doesn’t involve midterms and papers is one that I’m still getting used to even though I’ve been out of college for a little more than a year. Not being able to skip eight o’clock classes is kind of a drag. But when you spend so much of your life deeply invested in a church body, and then suddenly find yourself without that church body, everything gets more difficult.
Overall I am doing well – I really am. But I’d be lying to you if I said this is how my year has been. Even though I have an awesome job with great coworkers, not having a church body has not encouraged me to seek God more on my own. Being a rogue Christian isn’t what God intended. For one thing, if Christ has a body called the church and “Christian” literally means “little Christ,” then to call oneself a Christian is to call oneself a “little member of the larger body.” It might be stretching a bit for a definition, but that’s how I see it.
We were made for community. We were made to open up to one another about life’s trials and triumphs. We were made to laugh together, cry together, pray together, sing loudly without care for embarrassment together, and even to root for opposing football teams together. If we don’t have a Christ-conducive community, we don’t have the essential elements to an abundant life.
And then this morning happened. A couple days ago I received an email about a new church starting up with a guy by the name of Scott Lamb – a guy who spoke at Cross Training’s summer retreat this past summer. Recalling his teaching style, I decided to go.
In one word: Refreshing. In another: Challenging. Scott spoke about what truly makes followers of Christ different than every body else. He brought up a story of a man who had a beautiful wife, beautiful children, a beautiful home, expensive cars – all the riches one could ask of this world – and, after showing a pastor pictures of all that he had, asked that pastor what more he could possibly offer him by talking about Jesus. Scott’s point? What tangible evidence do we have about ourselves that, at the very least, hints to Jesus – hints to the “something more” that the world doesn’t yet have?
Scott then talked about what Jesus has offered each of us – what He declared to do in the Gospel of John:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – 10:10
This life, Scott pointed out, is a life that’s bigger and better than any life we’ve ever known. It’s eternal life in our mortal bodies. It’s the life that’s coming already here in the present. And it’s a life that cannot be snuffed out.
Scott’s vision for the church is one of mobility – regularly meeting at his family’s home for now, but eventually going out to hurting people to bring the Healer to them. What this requires, though, is that we, the recipients of Christ’s “abundant life,” must be real with ourselves. If we cannot be real with ourselves – loving fellow Christians as Christ loved us (John 13:34-35) – we cannot be real with the people we’re trying to minister. To put it another way; in order to spread Real Life, you must first have Real Life.
What I think God has asked of me through Scott’s message and Emmaus Life’s presence (Emmaus Life being the name of the church he’s planted) is that I allow myself to be part of a church without walls. No I don’t mean to say that even in the cold winter days or the rainy autumn afternoons Emmaus Life will be meeting outside in the elements. I mean to say that through and through we embody and spread Christ’s Real, Abundant Life. When we gather together to worship, pray, or study; when we step into a new neighborhood looking to serve whatever needs that might arise; when we go home with our spouses and friends; and when we find ourselves alone with no one but God, we are called to share that Real Life.
God has challenged me to be a person without walls. No, it doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to reveal every detail about my life with everyone I see. But it does mean that I will seek to be honest when I need to – as well as compassionate, forgiving, encouraging, serving, and loving anyone at any time as Christ has loved me. That’s how people will know that He does exist; that we share Him with them.
Safe to say I think I have found a home.