1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV
“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Traditional Church Mindset
When you say the word “church,” at least here in America, though I suspect in other nations, too, what comes to mind first and foremost? Pretty much all the people I know, when they say, “church,” they mean a building in a specific location, oftentimes of a particular church denomination, and most likely, in these days, also a corporation under the state (via 501c3).
If I happen to run into (not literally, but meaning to see someone I know) someone with whom I used to attend one of these “churches”, one of the usual questions he/she will ask me is, “So, where are you going to church now?” The assumption is that I am “going to church,” but also that it is a specific place, a location where I would travel to and attend regularly.
Even though, if you actually talk about the meaning of the word “church,” they will sometimes acknowledge that they know the true meaning of what the church is, still they will usually revert right back to the institutional mindset of what church is and what it should look like, because that is how we have pretty much all been programmed from birth to view the church.
I find myself sometimes, as well, referring to church as a specific place and as a building and as a church denomination, etc., as a matter of habit when I am not thinking about it, for it is automatic. And so I have to train myself to try to find a way to refer to the church in its truest sense rather than in the traditional way that I have heard it referred to over my lifetime.
And why is that important? Because the mindset is that the church is a physical building and that it is a human institution of denominations (divisions) of men, and so we begin to adapt to that understanding, and so we also begin to conform our thinking and our believing to the institutional mindset, and then we begin to adopt their ways and not the ways of God.
Our loyalties begin to be to the buildings and to the properties and to the things of this world and to the institutions and to their programs and to the men who lead these institutions, in place of or over and above our loyalties to our Savior. And we let these institutions of men determine church for us instead of us being the church God created us to be.
Okay, so here is one of the dangers of thinking of church as a physical building or as a church denomination or a human institution. They begin to be run by men, and Jesus Christ is no longer the head. And then they begin to market the church to the world in order to attract the world to the gatherings of the church, and so they alter the meaning of “church,” and they alter how the church is to operate biblically so that the world will feel at home in “the church.” Now, this is all backwards.
And what happened in America, and perhaps in other countries, too, is that, in the last 20-25 years, at least, they pretty much all began to follow one man’s plan for how to grow their “churches” (in numbers), which meant inviting the world into their gatherings. And so they began to change how church was done in order to conform the gatherings of the church to be more like the world was offering so that the world would like it there.
And since they were now trying to attract the world to their gatherings, they were following man’s methods for how to do that, and these marketing books and programs and schemes began to replace the Bible as did books written by men who were diluting the gospel to make it more acceptable and attractive to the flesh of humans and to the world. And pretty much all these churches then began to look the same, and have the same goals, etc., despite the fact that they were of many different denominations.
But their “alikeness” was not with Christ or with his gospel message or as the body of Christ operating like Christ designed his church to operate, but now their “alikeness” was with one man’s business plan for how to grow their churches and to make them more attractive to the world, and thus they ceased to be the true church, the body of Christ, with Christ as the head, but they became businesses of men marketed to the world who compromised with the world in order to win the world to themselves, not to Christ.
Definition of Ticky-Tacky – inferior or cheap material; cheap or in poor taste (source: Google/Oxford Languages). Exactly! A cheapened church, and a cheapened gospel, in order to appeal to the flesh of men/women so that they would all become one like the other and not be separate (unlike, different) from the world, so they were not becoming like Jesus Christ.
The True Church (Ekklesia)
But the church is not all those things. The church is the universal (worldwide) body of Christ, and it is people, not buildings and not institutions of men nor church denominations nor corporations under the state, although this is what it has largely been turned into, in practice. And the people are those who have died with Christ to sin and who are living to Christ and to his righteousness in the power of God.
We are the “brick and mortar” of the church, God’s building. We are the called out ones out from the world to be God’s holy people who are separate (unlike, different) from the world. We are those belonging to the Lord via God-given faith in Jesus Christ whereby we surrender our lives to Christ, we leave our sins behind us, and now we walk in obedience to his commands.
We are God’s possession, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are zealous for good works. For Jesus Christ bought us back for God (he redeemed us) with his blood. And we are to serve God and one another in obedience to our Lord doing what our Lord commands, using the spiritual gifts he has given to us in the areas of ministry to which he has assigned us to minister his love and grace to one another for the spiritual growth of all.
Notice how the church was referred to in the New Testament. Yes, the church did meet in various locations, some of them specific, like the church that meets at so and so’s house. But look at the verbiage.
“The church” meets somewhere. We are the church. The church goes somewhere, like they met from house to house and in the temple courts. Or the church in a specific location, like in Laodicea, which just means that is where they lived, in that city, but they didn’t all meet in the same building. It just meant the overall church in that city. The church met. We don’t go to “the church.” We are the church.
And we the church, who have died with Christ to sin and who are living to God and to his righteousness, like living stones in God’s building, which is spiritual, not physical, are to be being built up (encouraged, strengthened spiritually, and exhorted to spiritual maturity in Christ as each part of the body does its work and as we speak the truth in love one to the other). The purpose of our gatherings is to help one another to grow in Christ.
And we are to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, not to men. And the Scriptures teach us that we are to give our lives over to God/Christ as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our acceptable worship of God. And we are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, even the ways of the institutional church, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind away from sin to obedience to our Lord.
[Ac 2:42-47; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 3:9,16-17; 1 Co 6:19-20; 1 Co 12:1-31; 2 Co 5:1; 2 Co 6:14-16; Eph 1:4,22; Eph 2:19-22; Eph 4:1-32; Eph 5:17-30; Col 1:18-24; Col 2:19; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13; 1 Pet 2:4-9; Titus 2:11-14; Jude 1:20-21; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.