Monday, March 28, 2011

Life According to Ek

The New Testament word translated "church" in our English Bibles is ekklesia, from whence we get the term "ecclesiastical." The word literally means "called out assembly." The prefix of the word is the little two letter Greek preposition, ek, which means out of, from, by, away from. The church is a called out assembly. Its people are called by God's Spirit to come apart from where they were and what they were and gather to Christ, to His word, His sacraments, His fellowship. The church is, among other things, an embassy for God's kingdom, and a foretaste of what life in the age to come will be. As such it is certainly cordial and welcoming. But as it is "called out" it is also non-conforming to the broader culture around it.

I see just the opposite happening in many places. Falling over themselves to be welcoming, affirming, relevant, accessible, seeker-friendly and all the rest, many churches are becoming less and less God's ekklesia, on a track toward becoming something He didn't call into being. I'm not thinking here of style but of substance.

From the apostle Paul:

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Cor. 3:11-17)

4 comments:

The Underground Pewster said...

It is easy to be misled by style. It takes a discerning eye, sharpened by scripture, to see through to the substance of many so-called churches.

Straw walls and straw men abound, often covered with a slick veneer.

Chuck Hicks said...

Very good point. Often style is an extension of substance.

There remains the evangelical in me that doesn't draw big distinctions between styles of hymns, dress, local customs, etc. The rejection of biblical orthodoxy and holiness is what I have in mind.

The Underground Pewster said...

And there is still enough "low church" in me to remain suspicious of bells, smells, fancy dress and pomp and circumstance.

Chuck Hicks said...

I hear you, Pewster. My brief infatuation with incense is long over. We haven't even used candles on the altar in months.