In a day and time when businesses and workers are labeled essential or not, I think NOW is a good time for the church to ask themselves, are we essential?
Organized "church," as we have come to know it, has been halted for several weeks now and this past Sunday (Pentecost Sunday) we were privileged to participate in a reopening service at our former church. Early on in quarantine I read an article which stated if the church were truly living up to the fullness of its' potential, it would have never been shut down but considered essential.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." - Jesus (Luke 4:18 NKJV)
Jesus said the above words about Himself and He went on to tell us that we would do the same works as Him and greater works we would do (John 14:12).
What if we no longer "saw church" as a fixed place (the building where we gather) or a fixed time (the Sunday morning service we attend) and we started seeing ourselves and each other as the church. I know it is in our minds and our vocabulary already but I still think that "the church," the people, has not fully captured God's vision for her.
The physical bodies of those who believe in Jesus Christ are home to the same Spirit of Christ which anointed Jesus (Christ [Khristos in Greek] means anointed one). By faith in Jesus we can receive the same Spirit which empowered Jesus to do the works He did and which raised Him from the dead! We can invite that Spirit to live IN us!
Essentially, when God's Spirit lives IN you it means that He wants to be Present IN you and with you (Immanuel means God is with us).
He wants to:
wake up where you wake up
next to who you wake up next to
live with the people you live with
live next door to the people you are neighbors with
work where you work
play where you play
THIS is what it means to be "the church," the body of Christ! God's Spirit wants to put on your body like an earth suit and share His Life and His Love with you and with everyone around you.
And YOU are essential! Yes, you! Whether you believe in Jesus or not - He believes in YOU! If you have not received the Life of Christ into your life, He wants to enter into your life and fill your life with His Peace, Joy, and Love.
The church IS essential, but maybe not in the way we think...
Donuts and coffee - NOT essential
Justice and mercy - ESSENTIAL
Singing a few pre-selected songs - NOT essential
Being thankful - ESSENTIAL
Reserved parking spaces or seats - NOT essential
Being like The Good Samaritan - ESSENTIAL (Luke 10:25-37)
And I could go on and on. Every day, every person, is an opportunity to share with the world the fruit of the Life of Jesus (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control - Galatians 5:22-23).
I LOVE fruit...and who can truly hate on the above mentioned fruit of having Jesus in your life? I mean who truly hates patient people or kind people, good people or faithful people?
The church IS essential - you ARE essential!