A Simple New Year Resolution That Will Revolutionize Your Life in 2011!

Posted on January 7, 2011

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With the start of each New Year, I always find myself getting excited about the possibilities that may lie ahead.  This year I find myself day-dreaming about the possibility that Jesus could actually return this year.  Obviously, I have no idea if that will actually occur this year, but it is natural for someone who is engaged to dream about their wedding day that is approaching.  Every bride wants to get ready for the day of her wedding and the church, as a bride, is no exception.  Consider this description from Revelation 19:7:

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 

 

Every time I read this passage, I can see a beautiful woman getting ready for the day she was created for.  A ‘cleaning up’, so to speak.  I am convinced that the church is going through this process as we speak, and it is flat out exciting!  One area in which the church is in need of being cleaned up is in the area of how the church sees herself.  In light of this ‘cleaning up’ process, I would like to suggest a very simple yet very profound New Year resolution that could aid in the process of correcting how we see the church at a fundamental level. 

 

A Change in Vocabulary

 

I would like to ask you to seriously consider starting the New Year off by changing the way you use the word ‘Church’.  The church is something very profound, and the language we use about her should convey what is true about her, and not continue to promote false ideas and beliefs about her.  Here are some ways we can use something as simple as vocabulary to begin to clean up the way we see the church:

 

1. This year, I pledge to stop referring to the church as if she is a physical dwelling. 

I’m sure that almost every Christian that I would talk to would agree that the church is people and not a physical building, but most people reveal their true beliefs about something in the way they speak about something.  One of my pep peeves is hearing the word ‘church’ used incorrectly in casual language.  Let me give you a common example:

“Go down the street, turn left, you’ll pass a ‘church’ on the right, then turn left.” (when giving directions)

 

or

 

“Look, that’s a beautiful church!” (when seeing or passing a pretty religious building)

 

or

“Wow, that’s a huge church!” (when passing a large religious building)

Now I know this might not seem like a big deal, but this kind of use of the word ‘church’ reinforces something profoundly untrue about the church.  As people who represent Christ, we should promote truth in the language we use.  Even though our culture is confused about this, we should know that the church is not a building. Why do we keep referring to her as if she was a physical structure?  There is a very simple solution to this profound problem…call the structure what it is, and do not call the structure what it is not.  For example, we all agree that a wife is a woman; so wouldn’t it be weird to refer to your car as your ‘wife’, or your apartment or home as your ‘wife’?  It is also weird to refer to the wife of Jesus in such a ridiculous way as well.    

This year, replace the incorrect use of the word ‘church’ with the correct word(s).  If you see a religious building, call it a religious building.  Do not call something that is not a church, a church.  Yes, I know there will be a social price to pay if you refer to a religious building as a religious building and not a church.  People will look at you in a puzzled manner.  They may even tilt their head to the side slightly in curiosity.  This may open a door for a good conversation about something vital and profound however, or it may not.  At the least, you will not have reinforced something harmful and untrue about the nature of the church in something as simple as giving directions or sightseeing for example. 

 

2. This year, I pledge to stop talking about the ‘church’ as if she is one physical location.

 

This example is closely related to the previous example I just gave.  Since we are all in agreement that the church is people, we should not refer to the church as if it had one location.  I am writing this blog post while sitting in a Panera Bread restaurant.  I just had a very nice lady invite me to her church meeting.  She said: “You should check us out this Sunday.”  She finished out the invitation by saying: “Our church is at the corner of…” 

Now, I know exactly what she meant, but hopefully you get the picture.  I would like to ask you to pledge this year that you will not refer to the church as if she was synonymous with a physical location.  Since the church is made up of many people, it is not accurate to pin the location of the church to a physical location.  Here is an example of something I might say when inviting someone to a church meeting.  “Our church meets at (such and such) location on Sunday.  By saying this, we are communicating the profound truth that there is a separation between the church (people) and where the church meets. 

(The more we believe this essential truth, the harder it will be to justify the taking of millions of dollars to pay for such edifices, but that is a another topic for another day:)

 

3.  This year, I pledge to stop saying “I go to church” or “We’re having church”. 

This is pretty straight forward.  The church is not something you ‘go to’ nor is it something you are ‘having.’  Whenever I hear someone say this, it is a sign to me that they are still holding some false institutional beliefs about the church.  For those who are in Christ, the church is something you are.  The church is made up people who are in Christ.  All who are in Christ are members of the church.  When these members meet together, it can be correctly said that the church is ‘having a meeting’, or is ‘meeting together’.  Obviously the church is more than a meeting or a series of meetings, so we should not refer to the church as if it’s synonymous with its meeting.  This year, begin saying “we are going to meet with the church”, or “I’m going to the church meeting.”  Yes, you may pay a social price as I mentioned above, but you will be sowing seeds of truth.  Don’t laugh, those are very profound seeds indeed!

 

4. This year, I pledge to refer to the church as a ‘she’ and not an ‘it’.

Throughout the scriptures, the people of God are referred to as a bride.  I could go on and on about that, but quite simply, the church is a woman!  This woman has many members.  She is the very bride of God Himself.  (Stew on that one for awhile and your head will swim.)  When talking about this woman (church), it is appropriate to use the personal pronoun of ‘she’ and not the non-living word of ‘it.’  For example, when referring to how amazing the church is, don’t say: “it is amazing”, rather say this: “She is amazing!”  After all, would you refer to your wife as an ‘it’?  We should not refer to the wife of Jesus as an ‘it’ either.       

 

5. This year, I will not refer to my church community as if she had only one member.

Like I mentioned above, a nice lady invited me to her church meeting while I was sitting here in Panera Bread writing this blog post. (Not a coincidence!)  She began to tell me how amazing her Pastor was.  She was referring to how great a teacher & communicator he is.  Obviously, the church is made up of many members, not just one, so it makes no sense to talk about the church as if it only had one member.  After all, we are not a part of the church community simply because of one of its members.  Now I know why she told me about her Pastor, so I know what she meant.  I simply smiled at her and thanked her for her nice invitation.  In her understanding of church, the member of the church that she was referring to as ‘Pastor’ is the acting head of her church community.  She did not have to tell me that, she communicated that to me in the use of her vocabulary.  From scripture, we know that the true head of the church is Christ Himself, so we should mention how great Jesus is, and use Him as a ‘selling point’, so to speak, to represent the church community.  We should become a member of the church because Jesus is the good shepherd (pastor).  (For more explanation of this truth, see Matthew 23:8-12)

I hope this has been helpful for you as you begin this New Year.  I am convinced that the simple changing of the vocabulary that we use to describe the church will have a tremendous impact in helping us understand what the gospel really is, who Jesus is, who we are in relation to who He is, and how we are to function on this planet! 

Happy New Year,

Jamal Jivanjee

www.illuminate-us.com

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