“Church” has become the new 6-letter word that many people have chosen to hate. “Church” is now associated with a fair measure of emotional, spiritual, and psychological abuse for many, many people who are no longer willing to remain quiet about the abuse.
But “church” is just a word. In and of itself, the word has no power. It is the baggage – the abuse – associated with the word that has power in people’s mind. It is the baggage that makes people feel crummy – but they point fingers of blame on the word, “church.” If a word triggers a negative emotional reaction, that person will heal, not by avoiding the trigger word, but by examining their emotions that are tangled up in the hearing of the word.
Ekklesia is the Greek word for church. It means “gathering.”
Thus, upon Peter’s acknowledgment that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus envisioned an ekklesia – a gathering that would be built upon the rock of the acknowledgment, Matt. 16:18.
Ekklesia is a gathering of what?
Bodies in community with other bodies who also acknowledge Jesus as Messiah? Is this why Christians began to build physical houses of worship … so that they could gather their bodies in houses where God could sanctify such belief?
Yet, God supposedly told David, “I have no need of a house. I intend to prepare a house for YOU, David. I will build YOU a house!” 2 Samuel 7.
Ekklesia is a gathering of what, then?
Minds? Hearts? Spirits? A gathering of mind, heart and spirit, has no need for physical buildings, temples, stones, bricks, mortar, furnishings, pews, sound systems, bulletins, organs, music, hymnals, drums, guitars, big screens, candles, baptismal fonts, communion tables, etc., etc., etc.
Perhaps Jesus had a different vision in mind when responding to Peter. Perhaps ekklesia means:
A gathering together in one mind – not right belief.
A gathering together in one heart – not right faith.
A gathering together in one spirit – not right worship.
Ekklesia might just be a gathering together in one purpose – one in the same purpose with Jesus’ spiritual indentity as the Messiah – to pull together in love so that no person should perish apart from being loved.
The Church of Yesterday was built for the purpose of gathering bodies based on right belief, right faith, and right worship.
The Church of Today recognizes the limitations in yesterday’s thinking and the errors fostered by a wrongful spiritual trajectory. The trajectory is now in a state of correction.
The Church of Tomorrow holds much promise. People are waking up to the realization that the human race will either pull together in love or perish apart from being loved.
To perish apart from being loved is the polar opposite of the vision Jesus had when Peter acknowledged Jesus as Messiah. Jesus envisioned ekklesia – a great gathering! One that would liberate people from the anguish of perishing apart from being loved.
The Church of Tomorrow holds out the promise to become a true ekklesia – a true gathering together in one mind, heart, spirit. Its purpose will be to gather together in love instead of perishing apart from being loved. All will take part in the gathering.
Thoughts along the way,
Carol Wimmer is the author of the acclaimed poem When I say I am a Christian, and three books entitled: The Net—An Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow; The Clock—A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow; and The Key—A Spiritual Language for the Church of Tomorrow