Years ago, an article was making its way across the social networks about Christians, bicycles, cars, and garages. The premise of the article wanted to make sure of two things. One, if you park a bicycle in the garage, it does not become a car. Two, if you attend church, this does not make you a Christian.
At first glance, this seems to be logical as I have never seen a bicycle turn itself into a car in the morning. I am not sure that there is anything ever recorded in history that event has ever occurred. I am sure that once this happens, the garage will become a holy grail of sorts. It will become a sacred place for people to bring their bicycles to this holy land, park it, and come back the following day to a car of their dreams.
Could you imagine something so spectacular!?
Recently, I engaged with some strangers on Facebook. I was disturbed when an individual was in distress. Needing to find a place to pray, he tried to enter a few churches. Since this is the time of Covid, several of them had doors that were closed. He called a few phone numbers, and the pastors would not meet them at the church to give him relief. Several people on the internet wanted to provide aid to this troubled soul, but the prescriptions were terrible.
When the Spirit calls you to go to a church before an altar, they are looking for peace and salvation. I cringed at the thought of people making a diagnosis without understanding the symptoms or the complicated depth of the soul. This individual seeking a church would indeed be a bicycle turning into a corvette.
As people came to the rescue with words of wisdom to build their own altar, seeking god in different leisure’s, or even telling him that church is not essential made me move into a confrontation that would become very uncomfortable. When such words come out of people’s mouths denouncing church as necessary, a faithful preacher has the authority to say, “Get behind me Satan!” (Matthew 16:23.)
I engaged with the person seeking rest that a church is necessary and to let me know where he was so he could find relief from the burden this man was feeling. The sheer weight from God on this man’s heart was so impressive that there needed to be a preacher to give him forgiveness for a wretched mind and contrition. But sadly, the garage was locked.
As soon as I spoke about the importance of the church building and a called pastor, the attacks began by those saying the building is not essential, which is only partially true. The words from those seeking to help were not becoming of a Christian from those who claimed to be so knowledgeable about God’s laws. They knew little of God’s grace. I even find myself unbecoming at times, and therefore I need a church and a preacher.
As Christians, we understand that we should gather where the Word is properly preached and taught, and the sacraments are delivered to the sinner by a sinner. It is in Church that the blood of Christ can be found, and curtains torn apart revealing that we have full access to heaven. It is in this court that we hear the promise, and one is not neglected (Hebrews 10:19-25.)
In our Hebrews text, we hear the affirmation of the Christian confession (confessing what we believe and why we believe it). We teach and preach one baptism, one God, and the Father of all. Christians should also confess that the Church is whereupon receiving the gifts, the Word is preached, and where the Holy Spirit is fed by the very Word Jesus Christ.
A Christian cannot be made on their own, by choosing, or by specific actions. If being a Christian was about following a specific code, then Christianity is no different than other religions. When it is taught that a Christian becomes a Christian through their work, they deny God’s full glory of sanctification and justification. This is to say that where God is rightly preached and the sacraments administered is received by the broken individual to make them alive and whole in Christ (Article VII and VIII of the apology of the Church).
Indeed, when one attends church to hear these words spoken to them and receive the sacraments, one certainly moves from being dead in the master’s house to being alive in Christ. Those that move from the Church to make their own worship, their own ideas, and their own feelings of god’s presence in nature and leisure will not find Christ…which makes a Christian (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
When you receive the sacraments, one certainly moves from being dead in the master’s house to being alive in Christ.
So let us get back to that individual that was seeking Church. He sought “The Church” with a capital T and C. He needed to hear Christ preached by the mouth of one willing to administer forgiveness of sins (John 20:23).
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
We should be ever so thankful that God uses the Church to increase His kingdom through Word and Sacrament. It is in the church where God goes to battle (Psalm 46:10) for our souls, and the saints gather under one promise. Through His words, you are made righteous and Justified before God the Father, and the war with God ends.
We can still go to God in prayer to confess our sins. But if you want to hear God, read scripture out loud. This is where God is also. Remember, this specific incident needed better care.