See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.

“At my old church” is such an innocuous phrase. What could you find fault with, in such a common expression? Not fault exactly, but I do find a certain attitude expressed there which is uncomfortable to approach simply because of how obvious it is once you point it out. When we think of individual, located congregations in the modern sense, we miss part of the nuance of the original meaning. The Bible uses church in two primary ways, with our understanding of a particular assembly under one roof coming in third by a large gap. The primary ways that the word Church is used is to refer to the global Church, all of the redeemed and to the regional church, as in the churches in Galatia, a region in the Roman province Asia, or church in Rome, a metropolitan city.The effects of that narrowing of our perspective are deep, once we break the seal and look at them.If the church is one group in one building, under one name only, it then is something I can judge to be right or wrong and walk away from, therefore the church is a service offered to me or to be shopped for.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

Hebrews 12 breaks up this illusion. The Church is not **for us. **It is for Him. We do not have the option to change the parameters of worship or teaching to suit ourselves, that is an expression of our sinful nature (2 Tim 4:3).Our perspective as members of this Assembly, this Church, is ones who have come because of the One who leads the assembly, and not those who elected the assembly to serve themselves. “Our God is a consuming fire.” It is necessary for discomfort to exist between the fleshly desire to be comfortable and the Spiritual need to fulfill the relationship we have with God. There will always be room to grow and change. Are we like Laodicea (Rev 3:14ff)? Let us strive to move past the comfortable status quo and push toward a Church that is connected, sharing, growing. A Church that is better than it was yesterday.

Ethan Kirl

Originally published June 8, 2020