This IS church … and I love it!

In the eighties, the somewhat edgy (at the time) Carmen sang it this way:
Oh, let the church rise and move the gates of Hell. Let us rise and move the gates of Hell.
Let the church rise!
More recently, Michael W Smith has communicated it with these lyrics:
Let us sing love to the nations, bringing hope of the grace that has freed us.

Make Him known and make Him famous.
Sing it out sing, a new Hallelujah!
Arise, let the church Arise! Let love reach to the other side. Alive come alive, let the song arise.

I also love the lyrics sung by Casting Crowns:
If we are the Body, why aren’t His arms reaching?  
   His hands healing? His words teaching? His feet going?
  Why is His love not showing them there is a way?

In his book Rediscovering Church, Bill Hybels introduces several scenarios in a paragraph. At the end of each scenario and paragraph, he says:  THIS IS CHURCH.
For me, it began this past Friday night and looked like this:

Friends gathering for an afternoon and evening of fun and fellowship. A jeep ride. A hike through God’s beautiful creation, beside a clear, flowing river. Holding each other up as we crossed – laughing and enjoying the company of the family of God (and also getting wetter than we planned). Standing at the top of a cliff looking out on the beautiful water and natural surroundings. Dinner together, sharing and eating. Celebrating God’s goodness in our lives.
THIS IS CHURCH.

Saturday afternoon. Chairman of the Elder Board under our vehicle out in our driveway.  Only legs sticking out from underneath the vehicle – the pastor and his sweet friend – sweaty, grimy yet patiently working to fix our car – for hours! Suppertime … continuing to work, giving generously of his time to us to help us, sharing himself with us for an entire afternoon on a beautiful Saturday.
THIS IS CHURCH.

Sunday morning. Testimony by a senior Elder. A testimony of God’s grace in his life and the life of his family. Sharing from his heart what God has done in him. From where God has taken him. Beautiful picture of grace.
Together, standing and singing with God’s people – lifted hands across the auditorium in praise and worship as we sing together “How great is our God….” Standing there by my newly married daughter and her husband, sweetly praising the Lord. Great message on our God, the God of second chances (from Jonah).

THIS IS CHURCH.
Sunday afternoon. Church picnic at the park beside the water. Great crowd – fellowshipping, laughing, enjoying one another. One of the elders announces that following the morning service, a lady became a Christ follower in our follow-up room. She wanted to be baptized. Just like Philip and the eunuch (in Acts 8), her attitude was: “Here’s water. Why can’t I be baptized?” So, Brent in his shorts and the Elder who shared with her that morning in his, out in the COLD water they went. And up she came, representing new life, new hope, a new chapter for her. Cheers and applause for what God did.
THIS IS CHURCH.
Sunday night sitting around the tables at the local icecream shop. Sharing and basking in the goodness of the day. Giving thanks for answered prayers we’ve seen within our group during the last couple of weeks. In spite of car accidents, hurting marriages, elderly parents falling – God was working, protecting, and was revealing Himself to all of us. Bike ride with friends through the beautiful trails in Rapid City. Hearing the river beside us, reflecting on God’s grace. Friendship and fellowship to end the day.

THIS IS CHURCH.

That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved. (Acts 2, The Message)
THIS IS CHURCH!

As I thought about the weekend and this passage. I thought about my day. My life. I remember the song we used to sing with our college students years ago: More love, more power, more of You in my life. More faith, more passion, more of You in my life. I decided that I wanted to begin praying for this kind of day to be the norm, not the exception. If this kind of life really is what the Church looks like, and I’m a part of the Church, then I want to see this happening. I want to be a witness to this in my life and in my church and in my community on a regular basis.

The sweet, always-sharp (now with Jesus) pastor Vance Havner said years ago: The church is so subnormal that if it ever got back to the New Testament normal it would seem to people to be abnormal.
I’m praying that His Church will rise. May we move the gates of hell. May we make Him known to the nations. May we reach out to those around us. THIS IS THE CHURCH.

Let the church be the church that God calls us to be. Let us sing Hallelujah!

One thought on “This IS church … and I love it!

  1. mitzi July 27, 2010 / 4:24 am

    Dear Melodye,
    I remember what you wrote about church to me…and how sometimes we in the church hurt those outside the church. I think if more people experience the love and fellowship that you described this weekend, the lost people around us would be drawn to HIM like a moth to a flame. Thank you for sharing so beautifully the abundant life that CHRIST shares with each of us as we abide in HIM. “LIFE IS GOOD,” in HIM…no matter what HE allows, we know HE works it for good for HIS dearly loved children.

    Like

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