We tucked ourselves into a row of seats near the back and as we did the anxiety that had begun when we drove into the parking lot swelled. Tears threatened. I gripped my husband’s shaking hand. I knew his heart was racing as his breaths shortened. Fear threatened to overwhelm me.
We were at church.
All around us people chatted in small groups, occasionally looking across the room with a broad smile and extending a wave as they recognized friends or acknowledged visitors. There was an air of excitement as the music started and people began to find seats.
It had not always been this way, but we were in the grips of trauma-induced stress and anxiety. As much as we felt compelled to be there, we couldn’t do it.
We quietly slipped out, gathered our children from the nursery with a flimsy excuse and retreated to the safety and security of home.
The above story is like one recently shared with me. I was overwhelmed with compassion for these dear people.
In the next few days I heard a worship leader say that “we” are the church. It’s not the building that makes church “church” – it is the redeemed of God. 1 Corinthians 12:27 confirms it:
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.
“You are the church, baby girl. Go to them.”
God didn’t speak to me in bullet points, but I think he’s okay with me using them as I share. These are some of the clear instructions he spoke:
- Invite them into the sanctuary of your home. Break bread and share a cup in remembrance of Me.
- Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Encourage them with the Word; be honest but don’t you ever put shame on them.
- Be extravagant in your expressions of love. Use that spiritual gift I gave you for a time like this.
As I pondered and prayed these last few days, He’s also reminded me that wherever I go, I’m taking the church with me. Whether I’m carving pumpkins in a friend’s driveway, visiting a friend in the hospital or listening carefully as a colleague explains a process, I am bringing the Body of Christ to people.
The pastor of our church often encourages us with the promise that if we get our family and friends into the pews he will make sure they hear the Gospel. That’s his job on Sunday, but he has never met my friends who gather as the sun sets over the lake; he doesn’t interact with the porter in my building at work and he couldn’t tell you my neighbors’ or even my children’s names.
They are my friends, neighbors and family; they sell me groceries, postage stamps and iced coffee.
Jesus said “’Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself. These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s law hangs from them.”
The best part of being a spirit-filled believer today is that he has made our hearts his dwelling place. We are the church – let’s go be the church to the people who are too scarred and scared to show up to the building. Love him, love them. Love always.
Loving by His grace,
 Matthew 22:37-40 The Message