Let’s face it, we throw around the word “church” a lot. Drive down the street, and you’ll see a “First Church of the Nazarene.” Drive a little further and you’ll see a “First Baptist Church.” And while there’s a lot of biblical precedent for that name, in reality, the name of “Church” might not accurately define what that specific body of people really is.
Most regular church goers could tell you in half a breath that the name “church” actually comes from the Greek word “Ekklesia,” which means “called out.” In it’s religious sense, it’s used to describe a group of people that have been “called out” of the world, and into the body of Christ; people that are different, separate, and in many other ways, dis-attached from this current world (1 Pet. 2:9; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; Col. 1:13). Christians in the first century were known as a unique group of individuals, those who worshipped strange deities (Acts 17:18) and possibly even insurrectionists. Seutonius, an early Roman historian, wrote that “punishments were also inflicted on the Christians, a sect professing a new and mischievous religious belief.” They were a weird bunch, acting very strangely in relationship to mainstream society.
Yet, in today’s world, the word “christian” and “church has become synonymous with “American” or “Texan.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a town in the Bible belt that doesn’t have some kind of body of believers claiming to be teaching the true words of Christ. But the question is, when you examine the lives of many of those groups, do they really encapsulate the meaning of the New Testament word of “called out?” Or are they just another group of people that get together on sunday mornings to listen to a rock concert/motivational speaker?
Think also about the word “Christian.” Keep in mind, that word was not bestowed upon the Christians by themselves – other people called them that (Acts 11:26). That attribute was given because those people acted like and spoke the things of Christ. There was no other explanation for their behavior, except that they were trying to emulate the life that their Master had lived, and it seemed only natural, almost an accusation even, that they seemed so devoted to living the same life Christ had.
Ask yourselves then the question, in regards to both of these points. If someone were analyzing my life, and calling me a name based upon what my actions showed me to be devoted to be, what would people call you? Would they call you a Christian? Maybe, because of your support of televangelism, they would call you an Osteenite. Or, based upon the words that so often came out of your mouth, you might be labelled a MackBrownite. What accurately describes your passion?
Is our local church at Hillside, and whatever local church that meets where people are reading this from, the “called out” that Paul described the ones in the New Testament? Do we embody the qualities of being different from this world and our own special unique group? If not, we might need to re-examine that sign that’s on the front of our building, and replacing it with something that more accurately describes who we are: “Kind-of-the Church of Christ.”Last modified: January 31, 2019