In most A-Z lists of Christianity you'll find that 'J' is for Jesus, 'F' is for faith, 'S' is for sin or salvation and 'A' for atonement.
What I want to do in this series is to go a little deeper and write about some topics that don't always get top billing but are still important.
Have you ever thought that the person who made the nails that were driven through Jesus hands and feet probably thought that they were going to be used as part of a building? They were right.
Have you ever thought that the person who cut down the tree that was used to make Jesus cross probably thought it was going to be part of a building? They were right.
Everyone who aided in building and putting Jesus on the cross were actually aiding in the building of something much bigger. The Church.
The death and resurrection of Jesus was the beginning of the Church.
When Peter had the revelation that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus replied 'Upon this rock I will build my church.' Matthew 16.18
The Church is built with revelation in the hearts of men, women and children. Not with bricks, mortar and stain glass.
Jesus was saying that the moment you become a Christian you are part of the Church. (No membership forms to fill in.)
Contrary to the understanding of secular society, the Church is not a man-made building. Unfortunately, some sections of Christianity in the western world have been lured into thinking that the size of your church building somehow translates into a statement about how 'successful' your church is or that the technically advanced, contemporary, design of your building becomes an advert for Christianity to the world around it.The success of any church has nothing to do with the size of the building. It has much more to do with the size of the hearts of the people who gather in that building.
The design of your building is not an ad for Christianity. It's people of faith living and working in their community, loving people and sharing their lives with others that is the true ad for Christianity.
There's the saying, 'Stop just going to church and start being the church.'
We need to take this saying seriously.
Too many Christians hide within the walls of the church like it's some sought of fortress.
We think that by helping out in crèche or singing in the choir or helping to video the Sunday service that we are doing our duty. There's nothing at all wrong with doing those things but if we only do those things, and never share Jesus in our everyday lives, we are actually imprisoning ourselves within the church walls.
We have to consciously be the Church outside of its walls.
I remember one of the first 'defences of the gospel' I had to make, after becoming a Christian, was trying to explain to someone that by going to church I had not joined a club.
Unfortunately, that's how the world sees the church. It's a 'Good persons Club' where you go to your club building every Sunday to learn about how to be a nice person.
The Church is so much more than a club and so much more than building taking up space in town.
The Church of Jesus Christ is people. People who, like Peter, have had a revelation of who Jesus is and based on that revelation they go out and share it in their communities.
In case you're wondering, No, I don't have anything against church buildings if they've been built with the blessing and guidance of God.
What I do question is how far we have strayed from the model of the early church as seen in the book of Acts.
The early church met in peoples homes and they used their resources to help each other and their community (Acts 4.32). They didn't use their resources to fund a building programme or to buy a new video production suite. They used their resources to meet the needs of those around them.
If someone in the early church had 12 refugees coming to stay at their house then the church rallied around and got 12 beds, extra food and clothing etc. as required.
Yes, that happens today in churches all over the world but often the 'Social Effort' of local churches is squashed under the weight of expenses and up-keep on the church building and administration costs.
"often the 'Social Effort' of local churches is squashed under the weight of expenses and up-keep on the church building and administration costs."
Some parts of the church today need to take off their expensive corporate suits and cloth themselves with righteousness and humility.
Maybe, instead of building and equipping our churches to be comfortable to the saved, we need to be building and equipping our people to be comforters to the lost.
What do you think? Are church resources used wisely today? Are church buildings necessary?
Please feel free to comment in the comments section.