I remember the first time I walked into a church. It was not to attend services, or a wedding, or a funeral, and I was not compelled to gain some meaning in life. It was just because it was an historic building and we were on a tour of an older part of town. So I walked in and was told I had to be quiet. I asked, “Why?” “Out of respect,” was the quick and with a little how-come-you-don’t-know-this tone. See I was not familiar with churches, God or really any religious things. Our family was in to education and learning, and this was a cultural and educational experience.
As I moved in I saw people kneeling with hands folded and eyes shut. Some dropped to one knee, bowed, put their finger in a bowl of water and made a cross motion over the front of themselves. I saw people lighting candles and dropping coins in a box. I thought I would light a candle; it looked nice with the soft candle light bringing that side of the church in a warm glow. I was told it was to signify a prayer. “What’s prayer?” I asked. I got shushed. I later figured it out.
I also saw a guy in some robes that I was supposed to call father which made no sense to me. And then in a very prominent place in the room there was a cross with Someone nailed to it! That just seemed weird and a little gruesome. I asked, “Who is that and what did He do to deserve that? But before I got an answer I added “It must have been pretty bad that His humiliation warranted being made into a wood carving for all of time to know His shame?” That misunderstanding changed when I understood that was a carving of Jesus who willingly went to the cross to pay the penalty for my sin (Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23)! And though I know this church believes that Jesus is no longer on the cross but resurrected from the dead (see 1 Corinthians 15), that cross is a great reminder of the loving sacrifice Jesus made for us.
This church building was seeking to communicate who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Even the stained glass were ornate pictures of Biblical stories; creation, where sin entered the world, Jesus’ life, the story of the Good Samaritan, and more.
The Bible has a lot to say about the Church. Here is a video that shares some of who the church is and its meaning.
How can you love your church like Jesus? Take a few moments and think about this.
Seeking to love our church like Jesus with you,