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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tthe Church is now God’s temple, God’s "house."

                                   "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go

                                       into the house of the  Lord." (Psalm 122:1)

Aren't you glad when it's time to "go to church?" If you're not, then I believe there could be some serious doubts as to your Christian walk. When David penned those words, God's "house" was the physical tabernacle, then later the Temple. We know from scriptures such as Hebrews 3:6, 2Pet. 2:5 and 1Cor. 3:16-17 that the Church is now God's temple, God's "house." Contrary to popular usage, the "church" is not an edifice or any type of building, but rather the members, the "Body," as we read in Col. 1:18. Simply stated, the "church" is us.

Understanding that, I like it when it's time to gather together with "the Church" and collectively offer worship to God according to the precepts of the Gospel. One other thing we also need to understand is that the "church" is a social organization, so designed by God. Figuratively speaking, there are no "Lone Christians," there must also be "Tontos."

As a social-type of entity, there are other events that we share in besides worship service. Events that are relative to social groups such as fellowship events like "potlucks." I've always believed that these types of events are beneficial to "the Body" both physically and spiritually. Our friend, Bro. Russ Lawson, has written an article that expresses my thoughts on this subject right well and, as he always does, teaches a great lesson. With his permission, here's his lesson.

                                        ALL THE CHURCH WANTS TO DO IS EAT!

You may have seen the humorous story about a school class which were asked to bring something to show the class regarding an important thing in their respective religions. One child brings a Bible, one brings a cross and the last brings a casserole (dish of food). One of those may or may not represent your view of things important to your religion, but should we dismiss the casserole out of hand? The idea of a "potluck," in case you don't know, comes from the idea of everyone bringing whatever they had in the cooking pot to share. Some had much, some had little, some were lucky if they had anything, but they still shared.

THE PRACTICE:

Church potluck fellowships are a tradition going back to the first congregations we read about in the scripture. They were a regular practice in the church, we see examples of this in Jerusalem (Acts 2:46 & Corinth (1Cor. 11). Now understand that "the church" refers to members, so this is something which the members of the church practiced. Yet, many folks in our churches make the decision not to participate in this important aspect of God's Church.

THE PURPOSE:

Understand that it is not just about the food. The eating together is the secondary purpose for these gatherings. I believe that the fellowship is more important than the food, but I think we sometimes get that confused. Do you remember Jesus' comment to his disciples in John 4:31-32. "In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, 'Rabbi, eat. Aren't you going to eat?' He told them, "I have food to eat you know nothing about." (The Message). I think he was speaking about the Spiritual fulfillment he got by sharing a message that brought new life to people who had been living in sin.

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS:

There is a part of fellowship that seems to increase when you share a meal with someone. It is not just going through the formality of eating in the presence of someone else. This time of fellowship is a time when barriers come down and we share more intimately with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Not through any formula, but because it is our nature to do so. You see, "Breaking Bread together breaks down barriers." We loose some of the formality of relationships, we learn that our Christian brothers and sisters are just as human as we and struggle with the same problems and difficulties of life. We share our goals and dreams as we share a meal together and learn to love one another on a different level than when we sit in our auditoriums and worship together.

HOW IT WORKS:

One translation of Acts 2:46-47 says, "and (they) shared their meals with great joy and generosity, all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved." (NLT) I think that part of their success in saving the lost and keeping the saved faithful was simply sharing the Good News over a good meal. How about deciding to part of this part of God's plan whenever you have the opportunity!

*****************

I ask you, aren't those some great thoughts about the importance of using all opportunities to, not only be thankful to God for His bounty towards us, but to share both our food and ourselves with each other for a few moments. To me, there's more to being a Christian than just occupying a portion of a pew on Sundays. The "church" is also called a "family" as we see in Eph. 3:14-15 and I pose to you the thought of, how can we strengthen each other, comfort each other or otherwise help "bear one another's burdens" if we don't take these opportunities to share with each other?

Next Sunday, Lord willing, we'll have another fellowship opportunity in the form of a "potluck." I'm dating myself when I tell you that I remember them being referred to as "covered dish suppers" and "dinner on the grounds" but, as Bro. Lawson so rightly said it, the eating of the food is not the important thing here. It's the fellowship, the sharing of ourselves with each other as we eat.

Closing opinion: it's just great when "family" gets together and enjoys each other's company and partakes of some culinary delights while doing so. We like to prepare "special" dishes for these occasions, but always understand that the fellowship and the sharing of ourselves far outweighs the "specialness" of the dishes.

Ron Covey

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