We were talking as we usually do and he mentioned something about someone being upset that they had not been contacted in a while. That started something off in me that was not going to settle down in a hurry.
What was at stake was the very nature of church. For some it’s enough to do a gathering once a week for a few hours and then not much else until we do it all over again the following week. That, however, is not the fullness of church. Much of what is encouraged in the writers of the New Testament would be totally irrelevant if that’s all church is. Yet some of us dare not stretch ourselves to live out the implications of what church truly means if Jesus has saved, redeemed, restored and reconciled us.
That weekly gathering is a beautiful thing … at times. It’s great, but there’s certainly more to it than that and the more to it than that is the costly business of developing relationships. Developing relationships with the sole intent of Christ being seen through us for the betterment of each other and for the benefit of those we will go on to serve. It’s very costly and made all the more challenging in a society where people’s work demands means their time and capacity to engage in much else than travel, work, eating and sleeping is impaired to put it mildly. Still, in that context we are called to develop those relationships and get on with the Kingdom business of pursuing Christ in all things and demonstrating the love that He has given to us. That cannot be done solely on a weekly gathering.
So concerns over neglect by some in the family of Christ should not be glimpsed over quickly or brushed aside with further encouragements to make sacrifices to make the weekly gathering. As long as those concerns persist it’s right to ask questions of the degree to which we can legitimately call ourselves church.
That’s not to say the onus is on an individual. It certainly shouldn’t be lumbered on someone just because they have a title. This goes back to, however, how we see ourselves as church and where we get that picture from and whether or not scripture paints a different picture. If it does paint a different picture, perhaps it would be in all of our best interests to pursue that different picture, however costly it gets, rather than persist with the wrong picture that we spent so long putting together by ourselves for apparently someone else.
The conversation has certainly stirred something in me to be more active in the intentional investment in relationships throughout the week so as to contribute to the family feeling that we share because of Jesus.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden