What is the Church?
When you hear the word "church” what is the first picture that pops into your mind? Probably a large building with a steep roof and steeple with a cross on top. But the church is not a building. It is people gathered around their Lord and his saving means of grace. The building is there to keep the people and their Bibles dry and warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. Hopefully its architecture and decor indicate that the focus is not on the building itself. Nor is the main focus even on the people. The focus of the Church is on the Savior.
In the first couple centuries of the New Testament Christian Church, there generally were not church buildings. The Church in many cases was under persecution, and for numerous reasons it was not possible or practical to have church buildings. Congregations met for worship outside, or wherever they could line up a meeting place, often in the homes of members, or even in the catacombs. We wonder how the Church could function efficiently and grow without buildings. Yet during those first couple centuries the Church grew faster and spread further than any other time in history. The focus of Christ’s Church was on him!
The common Greek word in the New Testament for "church” is "ekklesia.” It means "called out,” and refers to those who have been called out of the unbelieving world into Christ’s Kingdom. We think of the awesome description in 1 Peter 2:9: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Though the Church is not a building, isn’t it fascinating that the Bible often uses the picture of a building to describe the Church, as in Ephesians 2:19-22: "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
It is an exciting time for King of Kings Lutheran Church to watch the walls go up on our new church building on Covenant Dr. We eagerly look forward to having our own building. However, if we are not enough without a church building, we will never be enough with one. We are enough with or without a building because of Christ alone.
As we treasure our church buildings and thank the Lord for the earthly blessings he grants his Church, let us thank him even more for the forgiveness of sins that he speaks to us in those buildings, and the eternal home that he has won for us in heaven.