The Church: Who You Are, Not Where You Go

“… Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”   (Ephesians 5:23)

“… like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house…” (1 Peter 2:5)

“Most people misunderstand this. Say ‘church’ and they reflexively think ‘building’ or ‘institution.’ A guest once told the Seeker quite bluntly, “I don’t have to go to church to worship God. Besides, you can’t believe how uninspiring a place it is. ‘McChurch’ is what I call it, an all-purpose monstrosity. There nothing beautiful about it in the least.”

From this perspective, going to church means attending some service in a particular building once a week, which people like our guest might feel they can easily do without. Unfortunately they have ‘thrown out the baby with the bath water.’! A better image (or symbol) to describe the reality of the church would be a living organism, an integral body, which Christianity understands to be the mystical body of Christ. Here the individual members are fashioned into a unity, altogether a new creation, unique and comprehensive. “What about the people you’re there with,” replied the Seeker to this guest, “the congregation? Aren’t they actually part of your life, members of the same human family you belong to? And isn’t the one God the same creator and redeemer of us all? Wasn’t it Saint Paul who asked whether the eye would ever say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you,’ or the head say to the feet, ‘You’re of no importance to me’? The church is part of who you are too.” The guest seemed mystified, which is probably more an indictment of poor Christian teaching than of ill will.”

(The Monks of New Skete, In the Spirit of Happiness, pgs. 218-219)

One thought on “The Church: Who You Are, Not Where You Go

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