While visiting a Hungarian pastor in Budapest, he offered to give me a tour of his Lutheran church. The man spoke with grateful remembrance of the building's construction, as it had been built solely by the church members when 2,000 people attended in the early 1950's. However, after the 1956 revolution, the communist government moved a large number of people to new residences in other parts of the city, and church attendance dwindled. In fact, so few people were attending that the local government decided to tear the building down. When the demolition team arrived, they found that someone had scrawled a message on the document condemning the church building. It read, "The Church remains." The foreman conveyed this message to the government officials, and they reversed their decision. Amazing!
This wonderful story caused me to ponder the nature of the Church, the Body of Christ. What is the Church? It is not a building. The concrete walls of that Lutheran church could have crumbled upon the instruction of the communist government, but that would not have terminated the existence of the Church. The Church is composed of the people that have accepted God's saving grace and chosen to follow Him. A church building is merely a meeting place for the Body of Christ.
In fact, I wonder how often the church building becomes a hindrance in the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. Do we tend to limit the expression of our faith to the activities that occur within those four walls? We, who have chosen to follow Jesus, have the awesome privilege of embodying His presence in the world through His Spirit living in us. Yet, do we take that calling seriously, seeking to live Spirit filled lives in the workplace, in the home and in everyday interactions in the world? Do we carry the Church with us as we leave the church building?
Let us take great joy in coming together regularly in our churches to worship, learn and fellowship, for we are instructed by God to do this. But let us exit with a renewed understanding of our identity and calling, which should impact our every thought, decision and action throughout the week. In doing so, may the watching world see Jesus in us as we seek to love God wholly and to winsomely love our neighbors.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.(Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV)
Sharing the journey with you,