WE ARE THE CHURCH!
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20 NIV)
There is one statement that I have been sharing with you since I began my pastoral ministry at St. Andrew’s Streetsville. The church is the people and not the steeple. When we come together, we are the church. The church as presented in the Bible is not the building. The church is not a program happening in a traditional church building. The church is not a Sunday morning activity. The church is the people.
Therefore, this is why Jesus makes this statement: For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20 NIV) It is Jesus who brings us together, not program or tradition. What’s more Jesus says that when we meet together in his name, he is there with us. How do we meet in Jesus’ name? We meet in Jesus’ name when we meet for the purpose of worshipping him. We are saved through Jesus’ name. Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) Jesus is the reason for our meeting together. If it were not for Jesus, we would not be Christians. As we learned last week, a Christian is one who belongs to Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26).
I also share something else. We don’t go to church. We are the church. On Sunday mornings, we are the church who comes together for the worship gathering. I like to call it the Sunday worship gathering. As the Canadian population becomes less church affiliated, they might not understand the meaning of the words “worship service”. For them, service is like what the plumber or the electrician does. People know what a “gathering” is. Therefore, in describing what we do on a Sunday morning, I prefer to call it a “Sunday morning worship gathering” rather than a “worship service”.
When we are gathered in Jesus’ name, Jesus is there in the midst of us. Then when we leave the Sunday morning worship gathering, we do not leave Jesus behind. Jesus goes with us to our homes, our schools, our workplaces and wherever we go.
On Sundays we are the church gathered and on Mondays we are the church scattered. There is a rhythm to our lives. We gather in Jesus’ name and we scatter in Jesus’ name. Whether we are gathered or scattered, Jesus is there with us.
D.L. Moody was a famous Christian evangelist in the 19th century. D. L. Moody was visiting a prominent Chicago citizen when the idea of church membership and involvement came up.
“I believe I can be just as good a Christian outside the church as I can be inside it,” the man said. Moody said nothing. Instead, he moved to the fireplace, blazing against the winter outside, removed one burning coal, and placed it on the hearth. The two men sat together and watched the ember die out. “I see,” the other man said.
We gather together to encourage one another in Jesus’ name. Then when we leave the gathering, we commission each other in Jesus’ name to witness for Jesus. This is the rhythm of the Christian life.