The Church Has Left the Building
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Heb 10:24-25 NIV
Remember the little children’s hand motion: Here’s the church. Here’s the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people? Well, this week we didn’t even open the doors of many churches, and if we did there were probably a lot fewer people. Because of the Coronavirus, the advice from the CDC was to not gather in groups larger than 200, then 50, and now 10. As that number keeps reducing, most churches in the country have been discouraged from meeting at all.
At first glance this might seem negative. After all we are told in Hebrews 10:25 to not neglect meeting together because we need encouragement from one another. Thankfully, we live in a very different time than when the book of Hebrews was written. We have so many ways of meeting together today without being in physical proximity. The church does not have to gather in a building to be the church! In fact, this is an unprecedented time to leave the building in order to be the church.
Let’s not stop gathering together. But what if we gathered in spirit instead of in body? Might that subtly teach us what it actually means to worship in spirit?
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24 ESV
Perhaps we are too dependent on what is seen and touched anyway. This causes us to look at and live in what is seen instead of what is unseen. What if this unseen virus could cause us to fix our eyes on other unseen realities? Second Corinthians 4:17-18 says that troubles can actually produce for us an eternal glory, and that we can fix our vision on the unseen reality that is eternal and of far more weight and value than what is seen.
This does not depend on us meeting in a building or even being in the same place at the same time. We can still bring the Kingdom of God when we have left the building called the church. We are learning to be flexible, movable, like wind, spirit or breath. We can go where the Spirit leads. We are living, moving stones of the true building, a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5), called the Church, the Body of Christ, the Dwelling place of God. He doesn’t just dwell with us when we are gathered under one roof. He dwells among us living stones when we are separated by miles, even cities or countries. The entire world is coming together over this virus. The Body and dwelling place of God can lead the way in that unity. He dwells among us, no matter where we are.
At first glance it might seem wrong that we are required (or advised) to leave our church buildings and not gather together like we are used to. But what if the church has left the building “for good”? What if we choose to go out “for good”? Hebrews 10:24 says to consider how we might stir one another on toward love and good deeds. Let’s learn how to go out beyond our buildings and be the church doing good things. We bring the dwelling place of God, the Kingdom of God wherever we go, not just when we are gathered in one place.
A religious and legalistic spirit says that things must be just so in order to be right. What if this virus could sicken a spirit of religion and instead fuel a spirit of freedom and creativity and love? Maybe getting out of our buildings on Sundays is actually the best thing that has happened to us. Perhaps God is using it “for good”!
- How will you be the dwelling the place of God this week?
- How will you bring the Kingdom (reign and rule) of God wherever you go or don’t go?
- What can you do outside the building of the church that you couldn’t do inside it?
- What love and good deeds will you do this week?
- How will you spur others toward love (not fear) and good deeds?
Jan Limiero has been in ministry for over 25 years and is a faculty member with the Leadership Institute where she received a certificate in Spiritual Formation and Leadership. She is a life coach and spiritual director and loves guiding leaders to great focus and rest by knowing and living fro their true identity.