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Simply Church: Two Things

The church is all about Jesus Messiah. The church is all about community with others. Jesus is the center. Community is the center. There is no gathering of the body of Jesus if there is no Jesus. There is no gathering if there are no others. This is church at its core. Jesus is the most important, obviously, but you can’t have church without others.

The nature of this reminds me of some things Jesus said. When he was asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus’ answer is twofold. He says that loving God with everything is the greatest commandment and the second greatest commandment is loving others. Of course loving God is most important, but unless you are on a deserted island, you can’t do that without loving other people. Insofar as you fail at loving others, you fail at loving God.* The two commandments, although one is greater, are interconnected at their core.

Church is kind of like that. Is it possible to have an individual relationship with Jesus that doesn’t include others? Absolutely. And it’s wonderful. And it should be normative for the believer. You can sing worship songs alone. You can pray alone. You can read Scripture alone. You can take the Lord’s supper alone. You can even preach alone. But you can’t have church alone. That doesn’t work. It’s not a gathering if you’re the only one gathering. Communal relationship with Jesus should also be normative for the believer.

You can gather together a bunch of people, even people who believe in Jesus, without having church. This can happen a lot. I am certainly guilty of it. It’s possible to get together with Jesus-followers without doing what Jesus tells us is necessary for His presence. Jesus says that “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Sometimes, we can get together like we’re a club, a philosophical discussion group, or simply partners in fun. I have far too often gotten together with others who loved Jesus and talked about nothing, watched sports, played video games, and the like without our togetherness being in the name of Jesus, in the very presence of Jesus.

It’s not like God’s omnipresence suddenly stops when people are gathered without gathering in Jesus’ name, but there’s something different when the gathering is centered around Jesus. Every moment spent with another who believes in and follows Jesus can be a moment spent experiencing Jesus in our midst. This is church at its most raw and fundamental. It’s Jesus’ presence in the midst of His body. Jesus with his people.

It’s beautiful the way church works. When we are together in the name of Jesus we can fulfill both of the commandments of Jesus. We can love God with our everything and eachother with concern for their welfare. In multiple places in Scripture, we learn that by fulfilling these two commandments, we have obey all of the instructions of God. Church is where (not necessarily a location) this happens. And through the love of God expressed to one another, the world around may see Jesus and know that we are His.

I kind of wish this was the last post in this series. But “Simply Church” isn’t so simple. And certainly not so brief. Help me progress!

*I need to use more “I”s and less “you”s.

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  1. January 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

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  2. January 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks a lot Pablo!

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