Don’t go to church but be the Church!
Written by Eld David Leong
No, I am not suggesting we stop meeting corporately each week. But isn’t it true that we often speak of going to church when the Bible exhorts us to be the church? Most people think of church as a location or a building. When asked about our relationship with “church”, people usually ask: “Where is your church?”, “What church do you belong to?” or “Are you going to church”? As God’s redeemed people let’s be reminded that we are “…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession,” (1 Pet. 2:9-10) so that we may display God’s dazzling goodness to the world.
This past year we have felt the negative effects of the US-China trade war, the extended Hongkong political protests and the COVID-19 crisis. These have all reminded us that life is fragile and uncertain. What is God saying to us all today? We have been going through 1 Thessalonians in our sermons. That church was freshly planted. Because of strong opposition, the apostle Paul had no choice but to leave after having spent only 3 Sabbaths with them (Acts 17:2-3). And now writing from Corinth, he expressed thanksgiving on hearing that their faith has not just been an example to the believers in Macedonia and Achaia but have gone forth everywhere (1 Thess. 1:7-8) despite affliction (1 Thess. 2:14)! In his final instructions, Paul encourages them to stay on course and “be the church”. This, he does so, by giving specific examples of how church ought to be.
Church comprises “people who follow Jesus.” For some of us, that may include buildings, programs and all other accoutrements that go with the institutional understanding. But should these be it? It is certainly important to gather regularly to share our common imperishable hope we have in Jesus (Heb. 10:24-25). But, we do not and must not limit church to just the institutional. We need to “be the church” on the other six days as well – in our workplaces or schools, in our families and the community.
What would being church look like amidst all the turmoil and uncertainty?
Let us all take a leaf from 1 Thessalonians 5. Do we remember to love those who
serve us here at Zion Bishan? Do we encourage the timid and the anxious?
Do we help the weak? Are we patient to all and not take revenge for all the
wrongs that we have experienced? Do we remember to rejoice always, to pray
without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances, to hold fast to what is
good and to abstain from all forms of evil? Brothers and sisters, each passing
day brings the Day of the Lord closer. The return of our Lord is certain. Let
us be reminded to be the church so that the Gospel may be lived out loud