I do not often pass two 12th century castles on my way to church but we did this night. My wife and I and fourteen others from our church were spending half a month in Switzerland. We came to assist in a construction project at a mission station supported by our church. As we wound down the mountain highway to the village of Langenbruck we pulled up to a little storefront church. Inside we found a small but friendly group of brothers and sisters in Christ. The service was conducted in Swiss-German, but one of the missionaries translated the service into English for us mono-lingual visitors.
The atmosphere was nice, the message was encouraging, but the singing that night was. wondrous. Our new friend, Andi, led the singing while playing guitar. As a gesture of kindness he had selected songs from the hymnal that had both German and English lyrics. It was German in the front rows of the church but the back two rows sang out in our native tongue.
My first thought as I listened to the blended sound was this; when God confused the tongues at the Tower of Babel episode, He did an exceedingly good job. But there was something even deeper. It is hard to put my finger on just exactly what it was. There was something precious about our singing the same song, enjoying the same message, but for the most part, unable to communicate with each other. There was something deeper we all shared that night, something that transcends culture, country and language. We shared what we had in common at the deepest level of our being. A common relationship with Jesus Christ. This is that fellowship we have one with another, that John spoke of in 1 John 1:7. "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (NKJV)
What a blessing to know we are part of something far bigger than ourselves. We are part of the Body of Christ. That night I felt as if I had experienced a little bit of heaven. I experienced the body of Christ in a new and enlarged way. The body of Christ is bigger, stronger, and more varied than I am used to thinking. The body of Christ is just that, a body; it is people not programs, it is a congregation not a chapel, it is family not a club, it is all of us united on a spiritual level that transcends time, and space, language and culture.
As I think of that church service I am ashamed at my frequently small thinking ways. I assume others share this malady as well. I further assume that many church disagreements, fights and splits have small thinking at their core. We tend to think as this church or ministry as "mine" or "ours." We tend to perpetuate tradition on par with revelation. We grow comfortable in our own little corner of the world rather than going into all the world and preaching the gospel. We are here to preach Jesus and invite others to join this eternal family. We are about using buildings and program to build people. We are about producing mature followers of Jesus Christ. Let us remember in these exciting days of ministry expansion we must never loose sight of what the church is and what the church is to do.
Remember, Christ's work and church are bigger than what we typically see. Treat it as such.
Pastor of Adult Ministries
©2001 Bible Center Church
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