The real church is not found within a building, or even the people who gather within a building. The real church, if we’re really looking, is found on the streets, in the world, and wherever love is being shared with compassion for one another.
“Church” is simply a word. And we can interpret a meaning of that word in ways which get to the heart of what it should mean. For many, including myself, the initial images which come to mind when hearing the word “church” is of pastors, Christians, and everything I was taught through my religious upbringing to believe that church indeed was. It was the place I would go to on Sunday’s and Wednesday evening to see friends, play games, play music, speak or listen to a message, go to eat afterward, and then go home – that was church.
We could say that “church” itself was simply the gathering with friends, who shared the same belief I had been trained to uphold. But this, I believe lacks in truth of what church actually is. I believe that church should not be as separate from the world. What I mean is, Christians have interpreted a scripture stating “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17) to mean that we should be separate, in all aspects. Relationships have divided over beliefs, both within the church and with the world. The people whom people within the church spend their time are most often those who attend the same group. Yet Jesus himself did not conduct relationships in this way. Certainly, he spent a large portion of his time with his disciples and followers, but he also spent his time dining with those considered to be “sinners”, drunkards, and the like. I do not believe he spent his time with them with an agenda to convert them to his religion, but he simply loved them for who they were. Because with that genuine humanity, filled with simple love, dwells the power and grace for people to actually change.
The real church is seen when people share friendship with compassion for one another. When a person who may be judged negatively by society, is treated with tremendous value and honor. The real church does not look to grow their numbers, attract new visitors, or create a better Sunday performance, it possesses no performance at all. There is no show, no marketing, no media, and no strategy. It is simple love being shared between human beings. That is the church I wish to see come alive and thrive in our world. The church of compassion.