Church is a bad word for many people. Everyone knows someone who has experienced hypocrisy or worse. There’s also the matter of a history of bloodshed, plus the church’s influence in slavery, apartheid and other systems and rules which damaged the lives of innocent people.
Any time there is an organisation with great power, some people will ensure that evil is done through that movement – and this is what has happened through the ages with the church. It has been hijacked time after time, and this is something, according to the Bible, which God gets extremely angry over.
The Christian church didn’t start out as an institution of power or a big old stone building with everyone standing up, sitting down and singing hymns. It started with Jesus and his followers getting together to work together, to look after each other, to pray to God, to worship God, to listen to Jesus teaching on different subjects, to share the latest news. It was more like a rock band on tour than a Sunday morning at the chapel. They were a group of people who were travelling around with a common purpose – to tell and show everyone about God’s new plan for the world – and they needed to eat together, share their finances and, most importantly, learn how to love one another.
Jesus was not against worship in a formal setting – he was a Jew, and he went to the temple to pray – but he went there with a heart full of love for his father. He knew that many people were only going to church because they had to, or because they wanted to look good. Jesus taught that loving relationships with a Father God and with our friends and family are more important than rituals.
Through the ages, this good version of the church has lived on. This church is where loving relationships exist, where people worship God with honesty, and where vision and purpose has made change possible in the world. Anti-slavery, social and civil rights have all come from groups of believers standing up for change.
If you decide to follow Jesus, God desires that we have other people in our lives who believe the same – people whom we can consider as close as brothers or sisters. You might not think that such friendships are possible or even desirable in the churches which you know about. But Church is changing.
As well as the traditional style of churches that meet on a Sunday morning, there are groups which meet in people’s homes, and groups which meet in cinemas or schools. Some Christians choose to live and work together, sometimes on poor housing estates, and there are even churches which meet in Costa or Starbucks cafes. With a bit of effort you could find like-minded people who will become friends for life.
Follow this link to find a church near you: findachurch.co.uk