Yesterday, at church, I preached on church, to the church. In case you're wondering, yes, I noted the irony. I'm including some excerpts here for your enjoyment, review, or mocking...pick one.
“Stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matt. 12:49-50).
Saying this, Jesus gave us a picture of the Church being a family. Let me ask you a question. How many of you have been to a family reunion? How many of you have noticed that you have a weird uncle? How many of you go to great lengths to avoid that weird uncle? How many of you are starting to wonder if you are that weird uncle?
Did you notice that Jesus leaves out those kinds of details when He mentions the spiritual family He has? No mention of the weird uncle, or the aunt that insists on hugs and smells like cheese. He also leaves out the overachieving cousins, the grandparents who insist on telling you how much harder they had it when they were younger, and the in-laws. Don’t forget the in-laws.
I’m guessing there are at least a few of us who consider skipping family reunions or holiday family gatherings for this and many other reasons. Considering how difficult family can be, it’s no wonder we see similar avoidance techniques in the church. We can all acknowledge that church has more than its share of weird uncles.
Should any of us not be so immersed in this habit we have, we can note what a strange thing it is we have done here this morning. We have taken time and resources to come and sing and pray and learn at a place we call church. To worship God. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing against it. In fact, I’ll be making a case for it this morning. But we should at least be honest enough to admit that this is not the most natural thing we will do all week.
I’m going to church. Have you ever stopped and considered that statement? I’m going to church. Is that a verb? I’m going to Church what? I’m going to get my church on?
But what is church? Many of us grew up singing how the church is not a building or a steeple. You can thank me later for getting that song stuck in your head. Of course, does anything rhyme with steeple besides people? Then we might do this weird thing with our hands where we open the doors and see all the people. Seriously, besides some sort of spiritual contortionism, what is that? So going to church refers to a group of people more so than a building. It makes our statement, I’m going to church, make even less sense.
So it would seem, despite how we often misuse the word, that we know what The Church is, right? I'm not so sure.