For years, my daughter had attended a Friday night small group at my in-laws house, while Jonathan and I would sneak off to enjoy our coveted date night. Riley would be scooped up onto her grandmother’s lap, raise her hands in worship, open her little kid Bible, and listen quietly as a group of twenty-somethings would exalt Christ.
My daughter began to refer to this meeting as “Bible study” and she looked forward to going each week. From the age of 2 until almost 6, she attended this small group and I can only imagine how much she gleamed in that time.
But as our family was re-directed by the Lord to leave traditional church and set about starting an organic church, both mine and Jonathan’s language had to change…and so did Riley’s. Each Saturday, our home is filled with 25 adults and almost as many children, where we gather corporately to worship Jesus.
Riley would geek out each Saturday morning, as the extrovert in her could hardly stand the few hours that had to pass before her church family arrived. “I can’t wait for Bible study!” she would yell.
Jonathan and I realized that we needed to correct her language, just as the Lord had corrected ours. This is not Bible study, we told her. This is church. We are the church. This is a family and this is our corporate gathering–where we all come together. But you, and your brother, and mom and dad, and any and everyone who loves Jesus is “The Church.” How cool is that….?
Perhaps it seems a small thing too. The very concept has become so trendy now: “We are the church.” But tell this to a six-year old who loves Jesus and watch it become meaningful and powerful once again.
But I won’t lie, I’m still grappling with this—still trying to grow in discernment of what it really means to be the Body. A foot, a hand, a heart, an arm–all as one functioning with the express purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ as Head.
And there’s all that other pesky and sometimes not-so-fun-stuff that creeps up too. Living in unity, regarding one another as more important than yourself, laying down your life for your brethren. The toughness of shared life…and the sweet sweetness of it too.
The other day, Chad a brother and friend in my church family, said during our gathering: “I don’t know why they call it ‘Bible study.’ I don’t read the Bible to study it. I read the Bible to study God.”
I wished I had said it or at least thought it. I knew I would steal it because as Chad does so often, he sits quietly observing, listening to us and the Spirit, and then produces a gem that I scoop up and plop into my pocket, only to pull it out and stare at its many facets again and again.
And everything I am experiencing right now is that. Is this: that if it does not illuminate the Person of Jesus Christ, well then, what’s the point?
This family of saints that I count myself crazy blessed to be a part of, is showing me each and every day what Jesus really looks like: He is gracious, patient, selfless, funny, provocative, fearless, prone to fits of laughter, quick to lay on hands, filled with the Spirit, and drenched in the Father’s love.
Oh, it’s all in the Bible too, to be sure. But it’s also right in front of me, tangible and true. The Bible speaks of Jesus, in all truth. My church family shows me Jesus, in all truth.
His Body. Not a Bible study, not a small group, not a weekly meeting, not a Sunday service. He can be in all those things, but really, He is just everything. Always. And He looks like my best and closest friends, my family, and my God.