So someone sent me this text via WhatsApp and made me recollect so many thoughts, beliefs and my stand as a Christian.
“I will make my mind clear, then allow for rebuke In case it is not in line with the Word of the Lord God almighty. This concerns church. When you come to church, do not expect to see the holy people, perfect preachers, saints, apostles and prophets. Expect to see hopeless people, murderers, liars, deadly sinners looking for a way out, for truth, for life.
When you come to church, don’t expect a smooth experience with the people in church. They are filthy people, losers who acknowledge that they need help and they need God. There are no good people in church if you are looking for those. All of us are striving to be what God wants us to be. Don’t think we already fought and won all our battles. We are still fighting them and with Christ, we are assured of victory at His time.
Do not expect robots in church. When trials come, we face them too, and some of us fall. Because we are a body, we must raise all our fallen members back up. Their pain is our pain. We don’t expect them to never make mistakes. They are people just like us. There’s no perfect person in church.
Church is for the filthy, the hopeless, the misfits, the clueless, the lost. It is not for the wise, the clean the righteous, the sinless, the comfortable. Do not come to church if you are looking for good people, and if you find the person who lied to you last night praying in church, do not detest that church but rejoice your deceiver is on the right track. Pray for them.
Jesus receives sinners.
Come as you are!”
This statement struck a nerve and pierced to my soul. Before my salvation, or even as a young Christian I judged the church. I judged the people who went to church. I would see corrupt men, whom I knew are devious and evil in their ways take the front seat. I would get perplexed at the sight of youth with weird and queer behaviors singing in the choir and the sight of women who gossiped, whose hearts flowed divisive plans and means shocked me, their greetings and talks in the church ‘lingo’ would make me think of quitting that church. What happened next was simple, I quit the church.
I expected to see perfect people in church. With my shallow knowledge in the scripture, I would say that neither can be both hot and cold. I chose to be cold, to be of the worldly and I thought that should I go to church with my filth, I would be mocking God. I never got to understand the fallen nature of man who constantly needs God for constant renewal of the mind and heart. I wanted a church of perfect people. It was like looking for a ‘chama’ one that has many members, one that existed long enough before my birth and one that had serious members; to be assured that it cannot fail.
My understanding of the church was perfect, a church had to be no place for sinners, no place for people who fall short and no place for people who hurt me before. And definitely, no place for hypocrites.
Question: “What is the church?”
Answer: Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers.
In one of the CITAM Crossroads teachings, we were taught of us not coming to church but being the church. This thought bombarded my brain and though some may have taken it lightly, I never did. I realized that the church was not just a building. I realized that the church was not just a physical structure raised to accommodate perfect people but a fellowship of persons called together for the ministry of Christ. It is after the WhatsApp message above that I came to fully realize that we are imperfect beings who need Christ and we fall short. It is with this that I should not be surprised about finding my chronic debtors, my enemies and people I regard to as full of filth worshiping in Church. I should not treat them as people needing Christ for convenience but I should also look at myself in the mirror saying to myself that should I not have sinned, I should be quick to judge. I realized that if I am truly the church I should accommodate these people and help them stand in their falling nature.
However, I have a couple of questions I would like to ask. Should you have knowledge on them, kindly shed a light, more so in the comment section below.
- In our modern society and especially in Kenya, is church more of a fellowship or more of a building? Is it more of a place for sinners or is it more of a business entity? Would many people rather listen to gospel music in their houses (like I used to do) rather than go to church?
- Since church is for the filth, for people who fall short as often as possible, should they still SERVE in church? If so, how do you differentiate who is fit to serve and who is not? Is judgement of man used here?
- Is sin overlooked in church? Such that it is okay for that old and corrupt ‘man of the church’ well all know as devious and evil to sit at the front because we understand he is a soul falling short and striving to find Christ and not that small pregnant girl singing at the choir because she will ruin the image of the church? Does church represent man’s finite ‘thought-of-perfectness’ image or the image of Christ?
- We recently had a discussion with my fellow ‘men of valor’ on whether a church is an altar that can be raised. The arguments were based on whether a premise used as a club on Saturday can be used as a church the following Sunday so long as it was consecrated. If this is no to you, what of a hall used to hold all kinds of meetings used as a Bible Study venue or a church for that matter?
Should you want to answer all these for me, you can also send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. You would have shed more light into my life. Thanks a bunch. Why don’t you subscribe?