Roger Thoman, an author and thinker and catalyst for “simple church” and house church ideals, suggests an important analogy:
I love to ski. I am passionate about skiing. I enjoy skiing anywhere there is a slope and some snow. I may be involved in a ski club, I may go to a ski school, I may have skied at many different places. But none of this replaces what it’s all about: just skiing. If I tell people that I ski here or there, or that I’m part of this or that club, it’s not because I’m enamored with the club, the school, or even the ski resort. These are all peripherals to the real experience that I love, what it’s all about: skiing.
In the same way, none of our churches, nor “how we do church,” should be equated to living the Christian life. They are peripherals to the Christian life. Church gatherings support us in living the Christian life. But they are not “the life” itself. It’s great to gather and be part of, but let’s get skiing! It’s living for and with God that we are excited about, that we are talking to others about, that grips us with passion and excitement, that we are focused on. Just living full on for God. Just doing it. Going after it. Faithing it. Loving it. Losing ourselves in it and Him.
Aren’t churches and gatherings important? Yes, but let me be repetitive: they are peripherals to the Christian life. The church will always gather in a variety of ways. But imagine when the church gatherings are made up of a group of Christians whose primary focus is living full on for God. Imagine what church is like, whether we gather in a home or in a stadium, when all the full-on-passionate-alive-people-for-God gather together.
Church is more than a club, and church gatherings are more than a club meeting, but surely Thoman is right: the Christian life is not to be summed up in what happens during Sunday meetings. Still, this is quite a special season for the Christian believer.
- Today, if you believe Jesus was martyred on a Friday (or even if you think it could have been on a Thursday), take advantage of some contemplative, worshipful “Good Friday” program offered in your area. After all, it is not the resurrection, but the death that constitutes the atoning sacrifice for you and for me.
- Tomorrow (Saturday), think at least once about the intervening time between Jesus’ crucifixion and his rising. What was that time like for the Christ, for the Father?
- Sunday, by all means, “go to church” and thereby be a part of the proclamation of His death and resurrection until He comes again.
But, come Monday, don’t be satisfied with attendance and involvement in “church work.”