About two thousand years ago, a group of people found unity in following Jesus. I’m referring, of course, to the twelve disciples and those who followed Jesus besides. This was the “prototype church,” as I call it. Later, on the Day of Pentecost, this church was empowered by the Holy Spirit and, in a huge way, the old curse of Babel was undone — everyone heard the Good News of Jesus’ Kingdom in their own language and thousands of people joined the movement and found unity once more in following this Risen King.
That movement — that grassroots, crowd-funded, revolutionary, counter-cultural, love-filled movement — still continues today. For some, it takes place in tall edifices where rites are spoken in the ancient Latin tongue while the censers of smoke swing like pendulums, releasing their contents for all to smell and see. For others, it takes place in large theater-style auditoriums where strobe lights and smoke machines do their thing, amping up Christians young and old, while a preacher stands in tattered jeans and a 90-dollar haircut. And while I’d disagree with both of these approaches for various reasons, I can still join Paul in his concession that he so eloquently stated in Philippians 1:15-18 while I’ll poorly summarize as follows: “No matter — I’m just thrilled Jesus is being preached!”
But for most Christians in America, there are no Latin rites or emotion-fueled concerts. There is only a plain, low-key assembly that continues in small, nearly-unknown groups of people no bigger than 30 or 40 strong who get together in homes, storefronts, or even aging buildings with wainscoting and popcorn ceilings leftover from the early 1980’s, a fleeting vestige of the “glory days” of church planting in America. These Christians, like the others I mentioned, will all assemble faithfully tomorrow morning, some with robes, others with gray hairs and suits, and others with hole-y jeans, and they’ll all worship and serve our Risen King.
I’m so thankful to be a part of this movement, this amazing, timeless, God-ordained, living organism that defies all odds and is called the “Body of Jesus.” I’m so thankful for my local church. I’m humbled and thrilled to be able to preach and teach to my flock tomorrow, and eat with them and laugh with them and even cry with them. Our God is amazing to have given us such a vehicle for the Gospel and the perpetuation and proliferation of His Kingdom: The Church.
I hope you all will join me in being faithful to your local church tomorrow.