The Body of Christ
( In the 21st Century )
'Where do you go to church?'
How often do we ask this question without really thinking about it? Sure, everybody knows what we mean; we mean to ask them where they meet with others of like faith for the purpose of fellowship & corporate worship, but it's just easier ( simpler ) to ask 'where do you go to church?'! Why then don't we ask where they meet for fellowship & worship rather than playing along with the popular but ignorant notion that Church is where we meet, not who we are are?
The apostle Paul, in numerous places throughout his letters, refers to the Church as 'the Body of Christ'; this is not to say that, individually, every one of us is the Son of God incarnate, but that corporately, we the Church, those who have joined with the Creator in Covenant, have become One with Him through that Covenant! As 'the Body of Christ', then, we are with Him wherever we are & whatever we're doing.
The Church is a group of people that often meet together for corporate worship & fellowship, so you could almost quite simply say that we go to ( meet with the ) Church, but then we have to combat the deadly notion that we are ONLY the Church when we do meet together ( in a specialized building )! Or, some might say that it is only when we gather together ( geographically speaking ) as a 'Body' that we truly worship in Spirit & Truth! Both of these notions are far below what we see in Scripture & definitely not what the Creator of Heaven & Earth intended!
So where does this notion come from, this notion that we 'go to church'? Not only does this feed the ignorance of the fact that we ARE the Church, it also leads to the falsehood that true worship can be given only in a certain specialized building & that only in concert are we 'the Body of Christ'! There are those who might say this is a false dilemma, claiming that 'going to church' is the same as saying 'to congregate together'; sounds pretty close, right? Well, no; not just 'no', but 'HELL NO'! We DO congregate together ( most Christians ) not JUST on Sunday ( though this is most popular ) but throughout the week & in a variety of places! To 'go to church' ( whether just on Sunday and maybe Wednesday evenings-even Saturday-like some ) is blatantly saying, as above, that we are NOT the Church, EXCEPT when we DO gather for corporate worship & fellowship ( most importantly corporate worship-or just plain worship )!
Worship is something else that feels the effect of the phrase! As we saw earlier, there is a tendency to think that our primary ( maybe only ) means or manner of worship is to sing Psalms or hymns, listen to a sermon for 45 minutes to an hour & give our tithes & offerings. The belief that we must do this on Sunday, Saturday or whenever, in a building set aside for that special purpose is not only archaic, it's Pharisaic! This a big part of the same issue that Jesus uprooted in His Day; the notion that worship must be done in a certain way, in or on a certain place! When the Woman at the Well in Samaria reminded Jesus that 'you [ Jews ] say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship' ( John 4:20 ), Jesus said 'Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father'. After setting her straight, He told her at that Time, 'true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth'!
The Time is NOW, the 'place' is wherever we are & whatever we're doing! Worship is what we, as the Children of our Heavenly Father do. When we gather together in an certain 'place' for the specialized purpose of corporate worship & fellowship, it is in that sense 'Church' ( although 'congregation' would be a more accurate description ), but ONLY in that sense, because WE are the Church! We may meet AS the Church, but we do not 'go to church' ( Church ) because wherever WE are, there we are!
Charles Haddon Shank