My family and I took a short weekend to spend some time with other adoptive families. In fact, many of their children are family and close friends to our children before they became “ours.” I was reflecting on the beauty of people from India, America, Haiti, and a German young woman, an Au Pair for one of the families (Google it), all together in one place, in common joy, and celebration of what Jesus had done to bring us together. Most were followers of Jesus some may not have been. However, a multitude of nations were gathered because of Christ’s work regardless of who they were, where they came from, and what they believed. I couldn’t help but think this is the way church was meant to be. I immediately thought of my favorite image of the church in Revelation 7:9-10: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
We need to rethink what we know as “church.” The church is local, universal, and spiritual. However, sometimes we miss understanding what the church as a local community really is. The church is God’s chosen people and refuge of hope to the broken world unifying all people as one in God’s name. We need to understand the church less as a street address and more as a community. While studying the book of Acts you never see Dr. Luke refer to the church with a number or name. The church was the church of Jerusalem. How empowering and unstoppable would it be to say that of the church in our community? Our city statistics show there are potentially 17,000 people who have never been or no longer experience the love of Christian community we call church. We can change that!
The church is God’s chosen people and refuge of hope to the broken world. 1 John describes the Christian community as one marked by love. 1 John 4:12 states: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” Some have said the greatest treasure of heaven is being in the presence of God. Perhaps the presence of God can be found in the church when we love as John prescribed.
The church is community and family. A healthy family has their disputes and aren’t perfect. However, they stay family because of the love they choose to express for each other. Families fight for unity, understanding, fairness, and justice. When they are truly humble compromises are made when they can, understood when they can’t, and they remain together in love. We are church. You are church. Go be church!