What images come to mind when you think of the church? A building with a cross, stained glass windows and pews? A group of people with like beliefs worshipping together, fellowshiping together, doing life together? While that is beautiful, I believe the church has been called to so much more.
I’m reading Ezekiel this morning. Ezekiel has a vision of water rising and as I’m reading it, I’m thinking, “That river flowing is a picture of what church should look like.”
The church is to go into places that are dead and bring life. The church should not run and hide from the darkness but we are to infiltrate the darkness and bring light!
Everything should live where the church flows. We bring life and hope to situations. The harvest is plentiful where the church resides. Sinners are drawn to the light of the church.
There should be diversity where the church flows. People of all races ethnic groups, are drawn into the church because everyone feels welcomed where there is life flowing.
There is fruit where the church is. The miraculous is prevalent. Fruits of the Spirit abound. All People (not just the ones we agree with) feel loved and valued where the church is present.
There is plenty of food where the church is active. Spiritual food and physical food. The church supplies nourishment. People come to the church to be healed, physically and emotionally. The church is really a free hospital where broken, hurt, dysfunctional people can come and find rest, restoration and healing.
This is the church Jesus loves. This is the church Jesus died for. Now before you take this list to your local pastor and demand change let me remind you of one more thing. You, yes YOU are the church. YOU are called to go into dark places and be light. You are called to make dead environments alive. Where you go, you bring hope and life. You are called to surround yourself with people from various ethnic groups, a diverse group of people. You are called to bear fruit, to love ALL people, heal those who are hurting and be a place of refuge for the broken and the dysfunctional. You are the church! You are who Jesus loves. You are who He died for. You are who He commissioned, anointed and sent out. You are the church. Now go and make disciples. Go and heal the sick. Go and be light in the darkness. Go and change the world one person at a time. Go!
He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:8-12 NIV)