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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

XCVIII. Quid est Ecclesia?

What is the Church?
 
Old Testament terminology equates it to the Temple.  The first temple was the Tabernacle or the Tent of Meeting.  Everywhere the Jewish nation went they would set up a place to where the priests and Moses could go to God and talk to Him, sacrifice, pray, and worship God.  When the physical Temple was built by Solomon all of the symbols and items from the Tabernacle were placed inside, most importantly the Ark placed behind the Veil.  The Temple was divided into parts.  Depending on who or what you are is where you could go inside the Temple.  But only those close enough to God were allowed to go behind the Veil, the curtain that symbolicaaly separates man from God, which Jesus's death caused to be torn in two.  For more information on the temple see http://ideasoftimreligion.blogspot.com/2008/08/iv-worship.html.  The point here being that no matter where God's people are there is God as well, permanently.
 
New Testament terminology equates it to us.  This new temple is what we are.  The Church are not individuals though.  The Church is a body.  Some are hands.  Some are feet.  Some are speakers.  Some are seers.  But these both have something in common and its the same connection the Old Testament Temple had; God is always there.  And if God is always there how can you let worldly ideas and actions into the Church and/or Temple?

Keep in mind, the church is not the Church.  Small "c" means thet building.  Capital "C" means Christ's body.
 
The Church is suppose to be:
  1. Spirit-led, not man-led
  2. Glorifying God, not humanistic
  3. Use of gifts to help serve people and God, not show casing human ability
  4. Holy, not worldly
  5. An organism, not an organization
  6. Loving, compassionate, hospitable
  7. Witnesses!
But what has the Church become?
  1. Leaders with egos that can not see past their own accomplishments to see the hurt in some.
  2. Worried about growth in numbers instead of growth in spirit.
  3. Entertainment focused and "jamming" instead of true worship (putting God first).
  4. Lost in culture and becoming immune to the world's sickness.
  5. Business and less personal, more worried about reputation than character
  6. Divided, hypocritical, worried about reputation instead of character
  7. Bad examples because the world sees no difference between living a Christian life and a non-Christian life.
The Church is supposed to be separate from the world for we are not part of this world.  Yes, we have to live in it and deal with it but nowhere in the Bible does it say we are to become part of it.  The book Animal Farm, although not about Christianity, ends exactly the way what the Church has become.
  • "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike.  No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs.  The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to, and from pig to man again but already it was impossible to say which was which."
The pigs who were supposed to be different and make a change ended up taking on what the humans were doing and in the end became just as bad as humans.  Now, we are all sinners, so do not take away from this Thought that Christians are "better".  That is far from the truth.  What it is saying is we are supposed to act better.  We are supposed to change the world.  But the Church has become so liberal and weak, has watered down the message of Christ so much, has lost the true meaning of worship so much, that the culture ended up changing it.  We have allowed the culture to change sermons, our service to people, our charity, our education, and the worst is we allowed it to change our worship.  A non-Christian would say that is a good thing because it would make the Church easier to deal with.  But due to this changing the Church has become insincere and less relevant to this world.  Ask Europe.  http://ideasoftimreligion.blogspot.com/2008/10/xiii-church-of-culture.html
 
Yet, the big problem is those who are supposed to be temples do not live holy and don't see the problem.  They want to justify their own beliefs and actions.  Church leaders get egos and prideful and blinded.  They look for validation from friends and family.  The people find excuses to not live outside the culture.  The Church is dying because it is not being the Church.  The Church is supposed to be a witness to the world.  The Temple (you) is with God always.  So, how can we as the Church as a whole or as an individual Temple allow the culture inside?

And the last thing, the Church is not INSIDE a building.  It goes OUT to the world.  Too many people think the church building is the place to get saved.  No, technically the church building is for the Church.  You get saved in your heart, not a building.  But still the church building is there for a reason as well.  It is a place of worship and education but it is also a place where people can feel safe and comforted; a haven, if you will.  The building is a symbol of where someone cango who is feeling down and out because the world has beaten up on them.  When people come into the church building they want to feel safe.  They want to forget their troubles that the world and culture has caused them.  Yet, what does the Church offer?  Programs, sermons, and worship that is filled with the same culture that destroyed the individual in the first place, and mostly just to get a good reputation in the community.  It's like an alcoholic goes to church and the Church offers them a drink and people think the church is cool then.
 
After reading this many will try and rationalize that reaching the culture means we have to use their ways to bring them in. Jesus went into the culture, He did not become part of it. This is not to say that church buildings cannot hold fun events and be entertaining to crowds. But the event has to be real and sincere, it is not a place to showcase one's talents for their own glory.  Coffee and donuts never saved anyone.  How far can worship service use secular ideas before true worship is sacrificed?  Where is the line?  Answer:  it should stay out as a piece of worship, unless there is a point to it.

Other Thoughts you need to read for more explanation:

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