Church doesn’t mean what we think it means. If I asked you to describe church, I am 99.9% positive that you would describe a building where Christians worship, right? Well, that’s not what the original word meant. The first time ekklēsía is used is by Jesus:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church (ekklēsía) and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. – Matt. 16:18 (NIV)
According to Strong’s (#1577): properly, ekklēsía is people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church.
Read that again: ekklēsía is people. Called out ones belonging to the Lord.
It wasn’t even a religious term. It was a civic one. It described an assembly of people (or soldiers) gathering for a purpose. Did you catch that? It’s the assembly. It’s the gathering. And they are meeting for a purpose.
I could get into the whole etymology of church: the English transliteration of the German kirche (which actually is a building) and how Constantine’s conversion completely shaped our modern liturgy (pageantry that no where resembles the Jerusalem council of Acts 15). But I don’t want to bore you to tears. What I want is to make sure you realize that church is not just four walls and a ceiling. It’s so much more!
We are the Called Out Ones belonging to the Lord. We act as salt & light in the world (Matt. 5:14). When we leave that building (which I totally love by the way), “church” doesn’t stop there! It goes out with us as the hands and feet of Christ. It’s the moving body of Christ (1 Cor. 12).
The church is also the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-33). I love my bride. How much more then does Jesus love His? If you ignored my bride or disrespected her, then you and I would have difficulties. It’s a foolish man who mistreats the adored bride of the Son of God.
When we think of church if we just think of a building then we have a very small idea of church.
If you love Jesus, you will also love His bride.