6 take train

Every Sunday morning, week in and week out, year in and year out, believers all over the world trudge off to church services. Whether it is a Methodist, Baptist, Seeker Driven, Catholic, or Pentecostal service, the same basic thing happens every single Sunday morning in every place. There is singing, there are announcements, there is an offering, a sermon, and perhaps an “alter call.” This pattern has remained unaltered for 1700 years now.

Some churches will protest that they are relevant and different because they include some drama, a laser light show, or some cool pyrotechnics. The bottom line however is the same, the living vibrant church life of 40 A.D., where the church was “turning the world upside down” has turned into nothing more than a religious ritual. Jesus said that he came so that we might have “life, and have it abundantly.” The church seems to think he said “I came that they might have meetings, and have them abundantly.”

The church of the Bible was a living, breathing community of believers who were vibrantly living the new life Jesus had promised them. They met daily, but I don’t think it was to sing, take up an offering, make some announcements, and listen to a sermon. They had no buildings. They had no staff pastors. They didn’t have organs, pianos, drums, guitars, or even a harmonica. Instead, they had a lifestyle, and a way of being, that transcended the decay and depravity of the Roman empire. They transformed the most powerful nation of all time with the love of God.

Those early believers were developing a living relationship with a living God, and real relationships with each other. Jesus said that the way the whole world would know we are His disciples, is by our love one for another. Laser light shows, a coffee bar in the foyer, and great music are not the way Jesus said the world would know His people. Christianity was meant to be a way of life. Something that is lived out 24 hours a day, every day. The disciples of Jesus were meant to travel the journey of life together as one body. Jesus was not expecting us to get together once or twice a week and do something “spiritual” and then go home again. He was expecting us to be a family and act like one.

Instead of a living body of believers, we are a scattered and divided lot, who gather on Sunday mornings to “play church” for a couple of hours. Although many (if not most) believers find the church service to be boring and almost pointless, guilt and peer pressure keep us from ever admitting the truth, that we don’t like going to church, or challenging the status quo. We know that we will be judged as unspiritual if we don’t attend every Sunday and pretend that we enjoy it. We could spend the entire week meeting in small groups with fellow believers. We could share the gospel with strangers, feed the poor, visit the prisoners, and do the work of the Lord all week long, but if we miss the Sunday service, we will be viewed as “backslidden” and “unfaithful” to church.

We must be in church every week to “worship” God and hear the life changing message that is being preached. The problem is that most lives are not changing, and we do not offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is our reasonable form of worship. We have substituted singing and sermons for a relationship with a living God. We have replaced the idea of “being church” with the concept of “attending church.” Like the Pharisees before us, our traditions have made the Word of God powerless in our lives. We have established a religious practice that shuts Jesus out of His own church.

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and {that} the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.

- (Revelation 3:14-20 NASB).

Jesus is standing at the door of His own church knocking to get in. Let’s open the door and invite Him to take control of His church.