“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own”
1 Corinthians 6:19
Let me tell you a secret that had I known all along, my bitterness toward church would have been nixed a long time ago: We are the Church. Us, all believers, all throughout the world as a whole, we form the Church. Church is not a building, but us.
So any time you read the word church in the Bible, rather than picture a bunch of holier-than-thou people huddled around together, trying to spray the world with cleaning fluid, think of the body of Christ. You, me, everyone—together. Don’t think of a building, but think of us.
Friend, Jesus died to remove the need for a physical place to find God (see Matthew 27:51). Because of His sacrifice we are now the temples of God! You and I are individual, personal places where the Spirit of God actually lives and dwells! (See 1 Corinthians 6:19).
I didn’t know that. I thought that if I didn’t go to a church–an actual building–God wouldn’t love me. In turn, I’d be a second-class Christian and He would rightly make my life miserable. Why was this? It was because of the false advertising from the religious Christians. By religious Christian I simply mean those who find their identity in what they do and don’t do for God, rather than in what Christ has done for them.
Because of what they had taught me for so many years, I didn’t understand that God loved me unconditionally even if I never stepped foot in a physical church building again. Further, sitting in a church building no more made me know God than me sitting in an emergency room made me know how to perform brain surgery.
There are many people who have been going to church for decades (some, even pastor churches) and they still have no clue about the never-ending love of Jesus. All they know is, “I go to church.” They’ve created a self-righteous law called Sunday Morning Church Attendance rather than simply allow Christ to live through them seven days a week. Having your own parking spot at church and a worn out Bible means nothing if you still refuse to grow in the knowledge of God’s grace.
However, church attendance is still very important as long as that church is showing people the bottomless love of Jesus. I wrote about this very subject in my first book, True Purpose in Jesus Christ. Here is an excerpt:
Next up, I’d like to address the excuse of, “I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” I used this one for years. And sure, we don’t NEED to go to church to be a Christian, but that attitude in itself goes against Christ’s. So instead of saying “I don’t need church,” let’s turn it back around on ourselves. As I learned more about Christ WITHOUT church, I had no other option but to finally ask myself, “Why am I really NOT going to church?” My answer was this: because I don’t like church people.
According to the Holy Spirit in me, that’s not okay. God counseled me away from this incorrect mindset, and I immediately knew I needed to get back into church–if not for any other reason than to fight the devil. “Fight the devil?” you might ask. Yes, he was heavily influencing my feelings towards self-righteous do-gooders. I seriously disliked how I FELT when I got around the people who snubbed their noses at me. I was letting THAT have a negative effect on my life. And all it really was, was bitterness. Again, the Holy Spirit of Christ does not approve of that–and neither does my true self.
As a Christian I’m supposed to love everyone. Yet I had somehow fallen into the pit of seriously disliking Christians AS a Christian. And what else is crazy, I developed an OVER-empathy for non-believers—especially those who got picked on by unloving Christians. Once again, this was NOT okay with God. I’m glad I can chuckle at it now, because that was really bad. To overcome this, I began to ask God, “Show me how to love religious people,” and He has. This was one of my main reasonings for getting back in church.
Yes, we can pray at home (or anywhere), we can listen to Christian music and sing along WHILE we’re alone. We can even study our Bibles and watch a grace-filled teacher on TV or online, but church attendance is still important because certain people AT that church might need our presence.
Hebrews 10:25 says we are “not to forsake the fellowship of one another”–and no, this is NOT a law telling Christians to GO TO CHURCH OR ELSE! After all, the first church BUILDING wasn’t even established until approximately 200 years after Christ. Instead, this verse is saying our gatherings can be a time of wonderful encouragement. If you read the verse right before this one, it explains the context, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
Furthermore, going to church also teaches us how to interact with each other as believers. Christian interaction is a very good thing! At church, we learn corporately how to act (and react) toward non-believers, new Christians, weaker Christians, and even mature Christians. Which, if Christ is the center of the church, will always be EQUALLY with truth and love.
Another neat thing you will experience by attending a Christ-filled church is that you get to see and FEEL what it’s like to have the Holy Spirit dwelling among so many people all at once! This cannot be described in words! It can only be felt in person and CANNOT be felt by yourself. No, we aren’t “feeling chasers,” but there is nothing WRONG with feeling great feelings! The CORPORATE feeling of the Holy Spirit is amazing! And I believe this feeling is so important because it’s a preview of what heaven will be like, which is ALL believers enjoying the presence of God, together, forever!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, I want to thank you for church buildings and gatherings. It is in these places that so many good things happen! Yes, I know that because we are fallible humans, and we run the churches, we can make mistakes. You knew this ahead of time, and that’s why you have set up EVERY church based on YOUR grace! Right now, I ask that you help us to make the entire world the Church! We want to make it a place where your love and glory shines bright! Use us! Use our hands, feet, and mouths! Break down the four walls of the church buildings, as well as the walls in our minds, so that Jesus’ name gets carried into the stratosphere! In YOUR name Jesus I pray, amen!
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!