Read Ephesians 2:19–21
The church is the Body of Christ and each believer is a member in particular, adding his or her own gifts from God to transform the whole.
We were standing in a crowd of tourists learning about one of the most majestic European churches ever constructed.
“Where is the Church?” I asked Nick.
He gave me a look of surprise.
“Chris, we’re standing in it,” he replied.
“No, what we’re standing in right now isn’t the church; it’s just a building. And I realize that we are in a crowd of hundreds, but where are all of the people who once made this building a church?”
Nick finally got it, and his expression changed.
“It must have taken decades to build this structure, let alone create all the amazing murals and carvings. Many of the men who were part of this building project probably didn’t live long enough to attend one of the worship services. And look at all the intricate detail given to every single square inch of this place, all to give glory to God. Not to mention the cost! It must have taken some passion to make this all come to pass. What would these people think if they could see that their house of God was now nothing more than a tourist attraction?”
Nick and I looked around again, suddenly seeing this amazing building with very different eyes. As the builders labored to finish this magnificent house of God, I imagine the thing that kept them going was a vision of the lives that would be transformed as a result of their tireless efforts. They would have thought about the countless souls who would encounter God in this building, the bodies that would be healed, the marriages restored, the life-giving sermons preached, the prayers prayed, the ministries birthed, the friendships formed, and the incredible worship to God that would take place.
The architecture was not the goal in and of itself—it was only a means to an end. The purpose of the ornate building was to attract people to God. Yet today, Nick and I were standing with a group of tourists waiting patiently to take photos of the building—the bricks and mortar. We could no longer see evidence of the power and life of God’s Spirit working in his people. All we saw was a building that once housed the Church.
This is the exact opposite of what God designed the Church to be. In the second commandment, Jesus said that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. As the Church, we are called to love our neighborhood and the diverse people represented in it.
When you hear the word “church,” is your first image of a building or the people who work and worship and minister there?