Is Church the Solution, or the Problem?
At Revelry Church, we wholeheartedly believe that when you are planted in the House of God, you will flourish. We believe that the Church exists to be a home for everybody and anybody. It exists to spread the Good News of Jesus and make an impact on the earth for God's Kingdom. The House of God is not meant to be a place you are a part of out of obligation -- but out of a heart-filled passion for Jesus and the people He loves.
But for so many, church is outdated. Irrelevant. A problem in the world and the farthest thing from a solution. And you can’t blame those people. For far too long the church has been known more about what we are against than what we are for. The church’s voice has unfortunately been one of the primary voices of hate and division in the world rather than a voice of hope and love as Jesus purposed us to be.
But we have not given up on the church. We refuse to allow the small voices of hate be louder than the voice of love. We will rise up and we will have the victory because Jesus promised that we would. Jesus declares in Matthew 16:18 that “the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.” Jesus’ promise for the church is that it would be a light for the world and a representation of His love for the world. His promise is that the church it would be a proponent of mercy, forgiveness, justice, and unity. But why does this matter? Why does being a part of the ekklēsia - the church - have value in the grand scheme of things? Through our recent series “Heart for the House” we sought out to understand Jesus’ own heart for His Church and what exactly its purpose is on the earth.
Church is not where you go, Church is who we are.
Church is not merely a building or an hour long gathering. It is a community. A community that is united under one purpose and shares a common belief in Jesus and His grace for humanity. A community that encourages one another, invites people in with open arms, and just enjoys life together. It is for this very community of ordinary, broken people that Jesus died for and Jesus has an extraordinary amount of zeal for. It was this very zeal that drove Jesus to flip tables in the temple in Matthew 21. But His purpose in doing this was not to take out His built-up anger on some innocent bystanders. Jesus’ fit of righteous anger was birthed from the fact that there were people in His Father’s House of worship (the temple) who were excluding others and building a barrier between them and God. They were cheating temple visitors, forcing them to purchase more “acceptable” sacrifices to present to God, and treating them plain unfairly. Jesus knew man’s propensity to distort the goodness of God and build barriers that prevent people from accessing His presence, so He drove away those who were building the barriers.
This is a picture of what the church is about. God’s true chosen people - the church - are to be those who do not restrict access to God, but actually pave a way for those far from Him to come in close. When you believe in Jesus, your body becomes God’s temple - the place where the very presence and Spirit of God resides. (1 Corinthians 3:16). It is by this very Spirit that we are enabled to show people who Jesus truly is and to invite them to be a part of the community of God.
The Church is made up of those who follow Jesus & join Him in the business of building His church.
Being a part of the Church means simply following Jesus. Early on, those who believed in Jesus weren’t referred to as “Christians” but simply “the Way.” or “disciples of Jesus.” These were the people who believed in the message of grace and peace Jesus preached and chose to follow Him.
Being a follower of Jesus comes with an immense sacrifice - choosing God’s will over your own, which is not always easy to do. But in order to actually be effective in building the church alongside Jesus, it is vital that we allow Him to work through us and not rely on our own ability or merit. This means not striving to be sinless and perfect but simply resting in Who Jesus is. It is that simple: when you follow Jesus and stop focusing on your own ability, you are better able to choose His will over yours. This is because when you are fixated on Him, you become concerned with where He is going, not where you want to go. And from this place of rest and fixing your eyes on Jesus, you become a partner with Him in the building of His church.
The Church is be known for Jesus and Jesus alone.
One of the primary reasons churches have been viewed poorly in society is our tendency to err on the side of religion. Rules. Regulations. The church has often fought harder to uphold their religious traditions and condemn sinners than they have fought to “cloth the naked” or “care for the orphans and widows.” But the Church is not meant to be a proponent for religious regulation or “hell-fire brimstone” preaching - is it meant to be a proponent of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Because honestly, that is exactly who Jesus was and religious culture is exactly what He came to abolish. Because the voice of religion brings a selfish motivation - how can I be good enough, how can I make God like me, how I can guarantee a ticket to heaven? But the voice of Jesus stirs up a selfless motivation - how can I love others, how can I execute justice on the earth, how can I show people the forgiveness of Jesus?
It may seem easier to just follow the rules and regulations of religion, but there is so much more freedom in Jesus and in His rest. His beautiful promise in Matthew 11:28-30 rings true; His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He is the one who qualifies you. He is the only who empowers you. He is the one who motivates you, through His unconditional love, to effect change in the world around you and yes, become more like Him. It is Jesus and Jesus alone - no additives, no clauses. Just Jesus. The Church isn’t meant to be known for how morally upright and perfect at keeping rules they are - they are to be known for their love. They are to be a reflection of Jesus.
The Church is about Grace and Truth.
It has been said that “you may be the only Bible people ever read” and that is such a true statement. Most people don’t form their views of Jesus and the Church from the Bible, but they gather their views based on the followers of Jesus. Our conduct and attitude towards the world speak much higher of our beliefs than our beliefs ever have or will. Here is the reality: people judge how God would treat them based on how followers of Jesus treat them. So when a group of Christians go out on Sunday for their after church meal but are rude to their waitress (and tip like cheapskates) they obviously missed the message. We are to be a light and an example of Jesus to a world who otherwise does not know Him and whom will look to us as the example of His character.
So what about Grace and Truth? John 1:16-17 says “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Jesus is the embodiment of Grace and Truth. Grace meaning undeserved favor, power over sin, and the seal of our salvation. Truth means, well… truth. Jesus’ very nature is comprised of these two characteristics and He perfectly displays both of these through His forgiving nature. People have often seen grace as a “license to sin” or a cheap way to get away with doing bad stuff. But grace is actually the very power over sin! Romans 6:14 states “For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace.” Grace has more power over sin than the law (rules and regulations) ever could. Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:10 “I am what I am by the grace of God.” Everything that we are is because of grace. Therefore, everything we do and say is to be seasoned with the grace of Jesus (Colossians 4:6). That is why the church’s way of handling conflict and sharing truth should always be through the lens of grace. Our way of doing this? By forgiving. We are called to forgive as Christ forgave us. He did this without conditions because it is in His very nature to forgive. Forgiveness is the church’s #1 tool to display the fullness of grace and truth - or in other words, forgiveness is how we show the world who Jesus really is.
The Church is called to be a blessing to the world.
You may have heard before that you are “blessed to be a blessing.” But this isn’t just a saying, it is a Biblical principle that Jesus and His followers uphold. 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 says “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
It has been often misunderstood that God is anti-money. Anti-stuff. Anti-riches. But God is not against money because if we’re honest, money is a direct tool He uses (through His people) to change the world. Money is also what enables us to provide for our families, be generous, and yes - enjoy life. Believe it or not - God wants you to have money! He just doesn’t want you to find your satisfaction in it. When we try to find satisfaction and worth in wealth is when we misunderstand the blessing of God. But when we realize only God can satisfy and that He wants us to be generous with the blessing He has given us, that is when we can use it for the way it was intended to be used - through generosity.
The Church has for too long either been so anti-wealth that they condemn anyone with more than 100k in their bank account, or so afraid of money that they make their financial decisions out of fear of not having enough. But God doesn’t want it to be this way. You see - God doesn’t manipulate through fear, God motivates through trust. The act of being generous with your money is a decision made out of trust. Trusting that God will provide your every need. Trusting that His blessing will never run out. Trusting that He is Jehovah Jireh - “the Lord provides.” When we finally reach this place of trust, we can finally bless the world in ways we never could have imagined.
If the American Church truly got serious about tithing and generosity, we could solve countless problems that face our planet such as the world water crisis, illiteracy, world hunger, and so much more. And then with the generous blessings left over, we could build the church further in order to reach those who are lost and without the Hope of Jesus in their life. We were never meant to hoard our blessings for ourselves, but we were meant to go and bless the world as we have been blessed.