Some might consider it but a building . . . “I’m going to the church.” Some might consider it just a set of activities . . . “I’m doing church this Sunday or, I’m going to miss church this Sunday.” But, reading in 1Timothy 3 this morning, I’m reminded afresh that the church is so much more than a place or a program. Instead it is a pillar . . . it is a power . . . it is a people gathered apart to the living God.
Paul has spent the better part of this portion of his letter to Timothy talking about “God’s church” (3:5). Specifically, he has talked about the importance of those who lead the church. The primary qualifications Paul lists are not those associated with someone who knows how to run an organization . . . rather with someone who knows how to lead and care for his household. The “job description” is less about competencies and more about character. That’s because the church is not a business, it is a family . . . because the church is not a program, it is people . . . because the church is not a place, but it is to be a pillar.
“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth.” (1Timothy 3:14-15 ESV)
“The church of the living God” . . . chew on that a bit. The ekklesia . . . a gathering of called out people . . . an assembly of sinners saved by grace . . . a company of Christians . . . we don’t DO church . . . we are the church. And what makes us special is not our building (or lack of one) . . . it’s not the name on the sign . . . it’s not our vision or mission statement . . . it is that we are the gathered out people of the living God, called to be a foundation and support for the truth. How’s that for taking it up a notch?
Our head is not someone who occupies an office in the building . . . rather, our Head is Him who occupies the exalted place at the right hand of the God of heaven. Our Head is the risen and living Christ. We are His church . . . formed and empowered for His purpose . . . privileged to display His manifold wisdom and grace, to both the peoples of earth and the principalities in heavenly places, by His power.
Oh, how we “dumb down” the church when we see it as nothing more than a building or a service instead of the physical representation of the living God upon this planet. How we “low-ball” expectations when we seek nothing more than to throw a few bucks in the offering in exchange for a few songs and a good preach rather than anticipate encountering the living God . . . rather than desiring to see His glory fall upon us as we come together as the earthly dwelling place for God (Eph. 2:22).
What’s more,as those gathered together to the exalted Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are are given a time-transcending purpose . . . to be the “pillar and buttress of truth.” A pretty high and holy calling in a world that believes less and less that there is truth. But the church is to be the voice of truth. We are to be the voice of Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). We are to be people of the Word of God because His Word is truth (John 17:17).
When this grips my heart, how can I again look at the church as but a place to go or a program to experience. Instead, I’m intricately associated with and woven into the presence and purposes of the living God . . . I am called to be part of a body that displays the power of God and proclaims the ways of God. How’s that for something to get a bit jazzed about?
Part of the living God’s church . . . all for the living God’s glory . . . amen?