Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Real Jesus-Followers Love "Church"

Carleton, MI
I've heard some Jesus-followers say, "I love Jesus, but not the church." So they don't "go" to "church."

But that is impossible, like saying "X is round, and X is at the same time square." There's some fundamental misunderstanding of "church" going on here. A follower of Jesus is the church. "Church" is neither something a J-follower "goes to," or something a J-follower "dislikes," unless by "dislike" is meant a form of self-hatred.

Ben Witherington explains:

"The church is the corporate people of God assembled for worship, fellowship, and service. It is not a building, it is not an institution, it is not an organization. Any church that is even moderately successful certainly needs a regular place to meet, needs some organization, needs some structure, but the ekklesia as defined in the NT is not these things. I would stress the church needs structure, needs buildings, needs organization, but it should not be identified with them. It is precisely when the buildings, structures, and organizations or institutions of the church become overly-sacralized that they become difficult if not impossible to change. That’s what I call Christians developing an ‘edifice’ complex.
The word ekklesia, often translated ‘church’ actual means ‘assembly’. One person is not the church. A group of unassembled Christian friends is not the church. No, there is an element of assembling for worship, fellowship, service that makes a group of people a church. You need to be having church to be a church."