Just a Thought

For the last two weeks, I’ve taken the opportunity in this space to talk about the church.  We’ve noted that the church is essential to our spiritual well-being.  Not just helpful, should you choose to be part but essential to your spiritual life.  There is no biblical justification for the “Lone Ranger” believer.  You need the church and the church needs you.  Last time we talked about the church as the “called out” assembly.  A gathered people and that we are called to gather for the purpose of giving glory to God, for the edification, the building up of the people of God, and as a testimony to the world of the power and presence of God.  We focused our attention of the fact that we come to church to do good for one another.  I don’t just come to church for my benefit but also for yours.  It is the privilege of believers to minister to one another when we gather.  This week I want to focus on the third reason for our gathering – as testimony to the world.

Every church is an outpost for the kingdom of God.  An embassy representing our king.  Remember, our citizenship is in heaven.  We are exiles here.  In a few weeks Tulsa will celebrate with Oktoberfest.  German food, games and music will give visitors a chance to “taste” a bit of Germany.  In about 10 days Tulsa will celebrate with the Greek Festival a chance to get a little taste of Greece.  Each of these gatherings give a sense of what their homeland is like.  It is a chance to absorb something of their culture.  That’s what ought to happen when people come to church.  It is a little taste of heaven.  A chance to experience the music and culture of our true homeland.  It is something different from their everyday.  It is like stepping into another world, if just briefly.  This is one of the problems with the modern church.  From the architecture to the music and the atmosphere there is a drive to make it as much like the world as possible.  We want visitors to feel “at home.”  That’s a noble sentiment but biblically they should feel this is something different.  It is a different music and culture from what I’m used to.  Take the two examples above.  Different does not mean unwelcoming.  We want them to feel welcomed.  We want them to be at home in our home.  We are inviting them into our lives to share out culture.  There are implications of this truth and again, Merker is helpful at this point.

It means that when we gather, we gather not as consumers but as ambassadors.  The goal of our worship is not to entertain but to honor our King and to make him known.  Ambassadors do not set government policy they faithfully apply it.  What “governs” our gathering is determined by our King.  We are to reflect his will and express his heart.  When unbelievers come, they should experience heaven on earth.  When believers gather, we should taste home and long to be there.

Let me sum it up with this quote from Merker, “Since the church is a foretaste of the new Jerusalem, our worship should exhibit our distinct nationality and the pleasant aroma of heaven.  It should focus supremely on Jesus, heaven’s King.  It should embody kingdom priorities.  Then, as we worship in this way, God further forms us into more faithful subjects under his rule.”

I’ll see you Sunday.  Have a great week!