What is church?

Just recently my husband and I took an anniversary trip and visited this little island.

On that little island stood this little chapel, church, house of prayer….! It was said to be the smallest of the island, I agreed.

As the tour guide explained to us its importance, he then proceeded to ask us if there were any sinners in the group…

“Well if there are, you can now take a moment to pray and repent!”

Funny enough, as we all stumbled towards the little chapel in the heat of the day it was as if time stood still, it seemed some people actually felt like responding to this funny offer to pray.

With great reverence did people walk inside this little chapel, some sitting down and kneeling at the provided benches, while candles were burning in the front under a big crucifix.

There was complete silence in this itty bitty chapel, church building, why? Reverence for who?

I kept looking around the building and enjoyed seeing its design and architecture. I sat down on the benches provided outside as, obviously there was no space inside.

Do you have to be inside the building to be at church? Here they had to sit outside due to lack of space.

What is church?

The dictionary gives me several meanings; a building for public worship (especially Christian worship), the officialdom of a religious body, an organization of religious believers….

Is it the place we meet at or, if the church is a body of believers, are we encouraged to continue to ‘meet together to encourage one another’ (Hebrews 10:25).

Or like Colossians 3:16 so beautifully tells us: “when we let the message of Christ dwell in us richly as we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through Psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in our hearts.”

As I stared at this little church or chapel if you will, I could not help but think of that question. What is church? Here we were a bunch of tourist, sinners, who were given the opportunity to repent (ok maybe the tour guide was a little sarcastic, nevertheless some people did pray and respond). I guess you could say the tour guide encouraged us to live a lie of repentance and forgiveness even while on a tour, we had church, right?

Whether you think of a building or a group of believers, the message is clear:

Meet together, encourage one another, admonish one another with wisdom through songs, expressing our gratitude to God in our hearts, giving ourselves time to let the message of Christ dwell in us richly…

Romans 10:17 says:

“…faith comes from hearing, hearing the word of God..”

Where do you go to ‘hear’ the message, to encourage others, to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving…

That day outside of that itty, bitty island church, I took a moment to give thanks, praise my father in Heaven for his gift, for calling me His daughter and reminding me to walk as His church, listening to His message, following His ways and to never stop meeting together with others to allow for encouragement, gratitude and praise, for His glory alone.

Acts 9:32-32 says:

“Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit.”

Be the church – live in the fear of the Lord – be encouraged by the Holy Spirit!

Published by Marjolein Coghi

A multicultural, multilingual, multinational missionary family. Following and serving Jesus in Latin America.

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