Sunday, January 13, 2008

What is the church?

Remember the children's rhyme (with motions), "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and see all the people."? What is the church in the rhyme? It's the building with people inside. So, even the rhyme almost gets it right.

On the night before Jesus died, he introduced His disciples to a radical concept: it is the "Fellowship of the Towel." Pittsburghers understand that as we have our own 'fellowship of the towel" - the terrible towel that we wave at Steeler games. Jesus wasn't talking about the terrible towel and Steelers, however. He spoke of His betrayal and death. He illustrated His body broken and blood spilled. He talked about what would come after His death and resurrection. Jesus' "Fellowship of the Towel" was His showing His followers how to serve others when He served them by washing their feet and wiping them with a towel. His main men didn't understand, but they heard His words. His disciples didn't get it, but they did let Jesus wash their feet as He initiated them into the "Fellowship of the Towel."

On that astonishing evening, Jesus told His disciples that they would literally become His body here on earth. He told them that the Holy Spirit would help them represent Jesus to the world.

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the US Senate, flew into Washington, DC one evening. As he looked at the city's lights from his airplane window, he tried to spy his church - Fourth Presbyterian Church. Somehow he coldn't pick it out of the darkness, but he could see the lights of the Capitol, White House and many other government buildings. Suddenly he realized a wonderful truth: he was looking at his church represented by THOSE buildings. Members of his congregation worked in those buildings. They were being the Body of Christ (the Church) as they worked and lived and all the hours in-between.

The church isn't bricks and mortar or even a steeple. The church is people living and loving and serving the Lord of the church wherever life takes them. The church is "the Fellowship of the Towel"! The church is marked by thousands of points of light across our nation's capitol (and wherever else) pushing back the darkness as Christian believers "BE the church"!

"BEing the church" is us - believers in Jesus Christ, the people whose hearts are being restored by His Gospel! The church is us 24/7 showing Jesus' love with our hands and feet and hearts to a world lost in darkness. The church is us being willing to serve others at the point of their need - even washing dirty feet!

What the world needs now is love shown by restored hearts who love Jesus! The world doesn't need bricks or steeples. The world needs Jesus! And ONLY a restored heart - restored and being restored by the Gospel of Jesus Christ - can BE the church and show Jesus to the world!

We don't go to church. We are the church: the "Fellowship of the Towel"! It's something to think about!

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