People look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ with different reactions. Some embrace it, some are skeptical, and others just don’t believe it is possible. In the same way, people look at the church with different reactions. Some find it to be an inspirational as a place of teaching, some are doubtful that church has any meaning in their life, and others consider church as totally irrelevant. No matter what your view is, most people have a misconception that church is a place. When we make that mistake, we miss what God has done on our behalf.
The early church was not a place at all. This was a foreign concept in the days after Jesus resurrection. The early church was a movement of people with a conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead, knowing it was their responsibility to spread that word of the goodnews of new life in Jesus Christ. Luke, the physician who penned the Gospel of Luke, documented the workings of this unstoppable movement in the book of Acts. He begins this letter to Theophilus by referencing the Gospel account that was about “all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven.” Jesus work was not complete with the resurrection and ascension into heaven. Jesus did something in history and now the church is an extension of what Jesus did and what He is yet to do.
This message of the resurrection gives us some things that not only spurred on the early church but continue for us today:
The Resurrection Gives us Something Credible to Believe
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:1-3
Jesus “gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them.” Jesus offered them eyewitness accounts that could be verified by several different people in several different places. Those who witnessed these events were charged to take this message to the entire world. They made a decision that this message was so important that they were willing to die for it. When we look at the church today, instead of deciding based on whether or not the message is true, we have a tendency to ask whether it works for us – whether it does something for us. The message of the resurrection transcends the temporary circumstances we experience in this life and gives us a something we can put our hope in for eternity – something that goes beyond this world.
The Resurrection Gives us Something Significant to Become
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8
Jesus redirected their mission. He was telling them that the Kingdom of God is spiritual. It is not for Jews only; it is global. The Kingdom of God is not yet complete; it is gradual. Jesus calls us to “be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you don’t go to church. You ARE the church and are called to bring it to the entire world. Embracing this way of life points you to a bigger reality – to something greater than this world has to offer.
God uses everybody, not just a select group that has been called apart. No matter where you find yourself in your community, in your workplace, or in your school, you have access to people -an access that can make an eternal difference for another person. It’s easy to use an excuse of feeling inadequate as a reason to remain quiet about sharing faith. In reality, God loves to use imperfect people because imperfect people are all that He has. Even Peter, the rock on which Jesus chose to build the church, had just 40 days earlier denied that he even knew Jesus. Jesus ascended into heaven, leaving His work in the hands of all His followers. We are now the hands and feet of Jesus.
The Resurrection Gives us Someone Powerful to Lead You
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
It’s been said that Jesus went up, the Spirit came down, and the church went out. Because Jesus went to the Father, the Holy Spirit lives within us. We often try to do things on our own strength, but the power of the resurrection teaches us that the Holy Spirit is in us. When you understand the purpose of the church, you understand the great power that you have and the larger purpose you can serve.
If you have a conviction to believe in and follow Jesus, then you are the church. The church is not a place and never was. The church is the people that God chooses to use for His purpose. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you don’t go to church. You ARE the church and are called to bring it to the entire world. If you believe in the resurrection, this is your time to ask God to use you through the power of the Holy Spirit to change the world.