The Meaning of “Church” and its Importance

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.   Hebrews 10:24-25

In the dictionary, church is defined as a public building used for Christian worship. We use it in sentences as a noun, a place, such as “Let’s go to church.” However the Biblical definition of church comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of Church is of people and not the building in which they worship.

Even though it has been hard, I have tried to be very purposeful about not calling the building the “church” but the people. I think it is good to understand this point. It makes attending a building on Sunday morning for worship (or whenever you attend) more meaningful. I am relaxing a bit however because I understand that many people understand this but are just using the English definition of the word to describe the place of worship we attend. It’s not all bad as long as we understand the Biblical definition. Pick our battles, right?

I have been raised in a Christian environment my entire life. I speak “church” language well and usually know all the right things to say. I’ve also grown to understand that many of our traditions are not Biblically based. Many may say that meeting together as a church body is not necessary and is one of these traditions. But our beliefs must be based on a Biblical view and Hebrews 10:25 says otherwise.

Let’s focus on the words “Encourage and warn each other”. On a Sunday morning where I attend services, there is a packed building and we all file in right before it starts, sing some songs, listen to a sermon, and file out like our pants are on fire to make it to the nearest restaurant before the crowd gets there. Am I right? It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But ideally, you come into a room full of people you’ve had the opportunity to get to know at some point, REALLY get to know, and worship Jesus with one voice and a common goal. It’s not Sunday mornings that “encourage and warn each other” usually takes place.

God has much more in store for us than one service a week where we never really get to know anyone. He formed the church as a way to support each other. How are we to “encourage” if we don’t know the needs of those with which we worship? How are we to “warn” if we don’t know the struggles of others in our church family?

This works two ways. We need to be willing to plug into the church family we have decided to be a part of and open ourselves up to them so they know how to encourage us. We also need to do what is so hard for us sometimes and LISTEN to others so that God can speak into our lives ways we might be able to encourage them.

So how do we accomplish this? Being in a new church like I am, I have learned that this is hard. It takes years in our busy lives to form deep meaningful relationships within our church family. But I can guarantee you this, it will not happen attending a service once a week.

The Church as God intended is lived out in restaurants and homes getting to know others, serving together in some capacity, reaching out to the lost and hopeless together, meeting in small groups, having coffee with someone, and even sitting together at ball games. Many of us are missing this very important element! Our lives outside of the church services have nothing to do with the people with which we worship. Many times, we feel as if we have two lives. The one we live on Sunday mornings and the one we live the rest of the week. I have felt like that before. Have you?

I want to be a part of a family. A real family in which we truly know each other. We know our strengths and weaknesses. We defend each other from attack and lovingly warn and encourage if we see each other stumble. I want to share my life with the church, at least a small part of it, and work to meet each other’s needs. God knew we needed each other and set this in place for OUR benefit.

Being the church looks much different than attending “church”. I would love for us to catch the vision of what God truly intended the church to be and start investing in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. There is nothing we cannot do together if we rise up and join each other in our daily lives!

Have you found a church with which you can belong? Are you BEING the church or are you just going to church? I’d like to challenge you to embrace the Biblical meaning and join the group of people who truly understand the power that can be found within the church that God established. I invite you to consider changing your view of the church as a building to a community of God’s children. Find a group of people where you can be real with others about who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, and invest yourself into being a part of the church God intended. Then on Sunday morning, if you choose to all come together to worship, it’s truly a combined effort to praise our Savior together as family, meeting as one in Christ, and being reminded of the greatness of God, the importance of His Word, and the encouragement that comes when we follow His plan.

This Isn’t The Life I Dreamed About

I was driving the other day and a song came on the radio that I had never heard before. I’m not sure the title or the exact words but the general theme was that of a happy family, a man who has loved his wife all these years and the two of them watching their children grow up together. It was a beautiful song but as the chorus began, I broke down. In tears, I continued to listen to it and think about how I had wanted this life. I wanted a family that stayed together and I wanted my children to live in a household with their two biological parents. But not just that…

I wanted a happy and healthy family atmosphere for my two precious boys to grow up in. I wanted the very best for them and to provide them with as much stability as possible.

And it hurts me that they do not have that.

I’m tearing up again now as I write these words and open myself up to you, my readers. I imagine this is not an uncommon feeling among divorced women. Is it?

My heart hurts sometimes because of it. The heartache I see in Lance’s and my children is almost too much to bear. We both believe our divorces were necessary and are extremely grateful to have each other, but we both do grieve the circumstances that caused our divorces. We both grieve the loss of a two parent home for our children. We both grieve the loss of our marriages and our ideas of staying married to the parent of our children for a lifetime.

The sadness hits me without notice at times. I was having a great day the other day when the song came on. There was nothing happening that had me stressed or anxious and life was good. When I started crying, my exact thought was “wow, that hit me unexpectedly.”

It happens occasionally and Lance and I discuss it together sometimes. We didn’t want this for our children but it is the life we have. He is so understanding when I have my moments like this and I love him for it.

Lance and I have such a loving and caring marriage. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity we have to be in a happy, healthy relationship that will last the rest of our lives.  I certainly am not complaining about my past because it has led me to where I am today.

God has turned something bad into something very good. He has brought us through the fire and refined us. We are stronger and closer to Him than ever before and understand that all things happen for a reason. I would not be where I am today without the life experiences I have gone through.

God can use our pasts and our present willingness to reach others for Him. He can turn our brokenness into beauty so that all the world can see His power, love, and mercy. 

I know this more every day. But I am sure that there will still be days I grieve my dreams not coming true in the way that I dreamed them.  It is life and it’s okay.

I’m putting my faith in Christ that He will see me through. Every day. Every tear. Every grief.

And I know He will work all things for my good and the good of my children as long as we love Him and according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

This isn’t the life I dreamed about, but it’s the life I’ve been blessed with and the life I love, despite the grief that I may temporarily feel.

Keeping it Real,

Angie

***For more on grieving, see Kevin Thompson’s post An Ever Changing Grief  at http://www.kevinathompson.com/ever-changing-grief/