What does it truly mean to be the Church? It may not be what you think.
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As the Preaching and Teaching Team of Cell Life Church, we must share the vision the Lord has given us for Cell Life Church around the world. We try to do this near the start of each new year. The gospel is not for any one people, and neither is the vision the Lord has given us for Cell Life Church. Also, much like the gospel, the vision the Lord has given us for Cell Life Church has not changed over the years. The vision the Lord has given us for Cell Life Church is for all of Cell Life Church whether you are in America, Canada, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Indonesia, Africa, or the Middle East.
When we first started talking about forming a new church we spent many many hours in prayer. We did not want to feed into the consumer Christianity that is widespread today. We did not want to create just another place for people to come, feel good, and move on. We wanted to restart a movement. We wanted to encourage people to stand up for Christ wherever they found themselves.
When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior our old self passes away and we become new creations with new desires, passions, and goals. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
2 Corinthians 5:17
(17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
We wanted to see people become the hands and feet of Christ. We wanted to equip people to be effective ministers right where they are, whether it is at school, at work, at home, in the streets, or the marketplaces. We wanted to restore the church to the place Jesus left it in Acts and the Apostles spread it to.
We knew this would not be easy and there would be people who would not understand. However, we also knew that we must obey what the Lord was calling us to do. We had never heard the phrase “be the church” before, but it fit what we felt the Lord was calling us to encourage people to do. The Church is not a place it is the bride of Christ and is the body of believers of Jesus together serving in Jesus’ name and giving Jesus all of the glory.
It really is that simple. We are called to be the Church. What does it mean to be the Church?
Be The Church
Many have used this phrase as an excuse to not be a part of a church group and isolate themselves from other believers. This is not correct and it is very dangerous. Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
(24) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, (25) 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.
The writer of Hebrews is very clear. We are to encourage one another toward love and good deeds. We can’t do that if we are not gathering together regularly. So being the Church is not about avoiding being a part of an established church group. It is about being the hands and feet of Jesus together with other fellow believers.
This means extending grace and forgiveness to others with love. It also means serving others even when they may take advantage of you. Being the Church means being the bride of Christ and carrying out His work in this world until he calls us home.
Maybe you are asking yourself, “How can I be the hands and feet of Jesus?”
Be Jesus’ Hands and Feet
It is simply following the two greatest commandments as Jesus shares in Matthew 22:37-40
(37) Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (40) All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
To be the church, we must love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. The more we love the Lord the more we will see our neighbors with his eyes and have compassion for them. We will see them through his eyes and love them all the more. Our hearts will want to overlook transgressions and forgive them without desire for revenge or restitution.
Everything we do individually and as the Church is based on these two commandments. If we can keep that in the forefront, we will do well.
Jesus does give some practical things we can do as we be the church instead of just going to church.
Practical Ways to Be The Church
Let’s read what Jesus teaches in Matthew 25:34-40
(34) “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. (35) For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, (36) I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (37) “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? (38) When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? (39) When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ (40) “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
There are many practical things we can do to love our neighbor and this lists many. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, give water to the thirsty, and so on. Here’s the key to being the Church though. You must do these things in love. You must do these things for others out of compassion and love for them and love for the Lord.
You must also do these things without the expectation of a return or favor. Many times you give and give and give. You are often taken advantage of. Be careful not to let this sour you or stop you from reaching out and serving others. Doing these things without love for the person or love for the Lord is not being the church.
Anyone can feed someone who is hungry. Only a true believer in Jesus can feed someone who is hungry with the love of the Lord and bless them and feed their soul at the same time.
Look at the picture of the early church right after Jesus ascended into Heaven in Acts 2:42-47
(42) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (43) Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. (44) All the believers were together and had everything in common. (45) They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. (46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, (47) praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
That is the vision the Lord has given us for Cell Life Church and we want you to share this vision with us.
Our vision is to bring unity back to the Church and gather together, often. We want to sing together, pray together, serve together, and laugh together.
We encourage cell sites and home churches around the world to come together and sing and pray and laugh. We encourage all cell sites and home churches to love their neighbors and communities.
We ask all cell sites and home churches to serve their community in some way regularly and give all the glory to God.
We encourage you to be the hands and feet of Christ where ever you are and whatever you are doing. We encourage you to be the Church.