How many times have you been in a conversation where you have been misunderstood because you used a certain word that your listener took in a way you didn’t mean? And then you find yourself saying, “That’s not what I meant. Let me try again” and this time you use a different word. The same is true of the word “church”.
The Greek word (the language in which the NT was written) behind our word “church” (by the way, this word didn’t come about until the 12th century) is “ekklēsia” which comes from two other words “ek” and “kalew”.
“Ek means the origin or the place or point whence motion or action proceeds”. It means you are moving away from or out of one area into another. It also denotes that the action is completed. Bottom line, you are no longer at point A, you are now at point B. The other root is “kaleo” which means “to call, bid, call forth.”
The meaning of “church”
Now put these two concepts together and you have those are who called out, those who have moved from point A and are now at point B.
Acts 20:28 reveals that point B is God. Romans 16:16 says that point B is Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:18; 14:5 states that it is other believers in Christ.
“Church” then is not about programs or buildings, it’s not about Sunday or Saturday morning services, nor is it about a place. The ekklesia is about relationships—period. Relationships between Jesus, who is the head of this group, and between other called out ones.
You heard me say this before, and you’ll hear me say it again, you can only take two things with you to heaven—your Christ-like character and people. Sound like what the ekklesia is all about?
The moment we place our faith in Jesus as our LORD and Savior, the Spirit of God puts us into relationship with other believers and He expects us to walk with them, not in our old ways of dealing with people (point A), but with new ways (point B).
The movement from A to B
We are no longer to be like the world, copy what society tells us or live in the various lifestyles that we did before we put our trust in Jesus (point A or what Paul calls in Eph. 5:8 “darkness”).
No, we are “taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self” (point A) and instead “be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loves us” (point B—Eph. 4:22; 5:1).
A person who belongs to the called out ones should be on a journey to be like Jesus, which means getting along with other believers. It is no coincidence that the Spirit has given over 30 different ways in which to walk with each other on this journey (i.e. the one-another phrases).
Stuck at A though Showing B
I hear it all the time, however, and you probably have as well, “I don’t like Church.” What they are really saying is, “I don’t like the people that meet at such and such a place.” In fact, I’ve heard this complaint go a step further, “I feel more accepted and loved by my non-believing friends than I do by those at church.” This should not be!
I believe a partial answer to this problem is found in the infamous bumper sticker, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” This statement is true, but it’s also deceiving.
Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are truly forgiven of all our sins—past, present and future. So the statement is true. I am on a journey to be like Him and will make mistakes, sin, along that journey. Therefore, I am not perfect just forgiven.
But the statement is deceiving in that it leads people to believe that since I am not perfect, I can act any old way I desire because I will be forgiven. This is from the pit of hell. This is why people are turning away from the “church” The called out ones at “church” are stuck at point A yet want to make others believe they have arrived at point B. This is fake. This is unhealthy and it is flat out repulsive to those who need real people to love and accept them on their journey to be like Jesus.
Be Real and in Process
Healthy ekklesians are in process, taking steps of faith on the high wire act of being like Jesus. Sure there are risks of falling when you step out in faith, but don’t let that hinder you from walking on that high wire. Why? You have a safety net!
“Grace (aka the forgiveness on the bumper sticker) is the safety net of faith, not the license to be complacent.” As we walk with Jesus by faith, by taking risks in trusting Him, we will at times stand and at other times will fall in the process of putting off the old and putting on the new, but grace is our safety net. It will catch us and give us another shot on that high wire. And just as we want that room to grow, let’s make sure we give that same grace to others on their journey to be like Jesus as well.
Healthy believers will be real with each other. “Brother, I’m on a journey too. Let’s walk together.” Let’s not act church, but be called out ones—people moving together from here to heaven.
© 2011 Chris Suitt
Used with Permission. Originally Posted on his blog MORE THAN A SUNDAY FAITH