“What if Jesus Walked Into Your Church?”

“What would Jesus think of our churches if he walked in and sat down for a service?”

Have you ever heard someone ask this question?

I have.

I’ve heard from charismatics who don’t think the church is showing enough passion.

I’ve heard it from non-denominational Christians who are concerned with “dead religion”.

I’ve heard it from reformed folks who are pretty sure Jesus had a much higher regard for “TULIP” than is currently displayed in American Evangelicalism.

This question has been asked so many times and in so many places that it has lost its weight. However, even if this question had any semblance of weight to it is this the right question to be asking? In my opinion I believe that this question is destructive to the proper mindset of the church even in its original weight and glory.

The reason I believe this question gets it all wrong is because it takes very little estimation of the true nature of the church. In almost every case where I have heard someone ask this question they have done so in a manner that is seemingly derogatory toward the institution of the church as they currently see it.

But what does the Bible say about the church?

Countless times the authors of the new testament take a wholly different approach to overseeing and shepherding the church of God. Indeed, Paul describes the gathered church as the actual body of Christ and sees the corporate expression of God’s people in sacramental worship as synonymous with the actual presence of Christ. If I’m doing a somewhat decent job of explaining myself right now (which I’m sure is up for debate) you will probably see where I am going with this.

When people ask the question about Jesus showing up to church they are assuredly ignorant of the reality that, in a covenantal and representative way, Jesus is showing up. Moreover, when the church gathers in corporate worship on the Lord’s day they are, in a covenantal and representative way, Jesus.

The tragic irony is that understanding this profound mystery would surely produced the desired affects of those who ask the question we have been discussing.

Food for thought.

Michael

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3 comments

    1. Valid point!

      However, I do feel that in the spectator driven/consumeristic model of church that so pervades American Christianity we often use this question in the same way we would ask the question: “What if Jesus walked into your McDonald’s?”

      This question often assumes the consumeristic mentality when the church isn’t offering a product to be consumed.

  1. Ok, I was thinking of it more in light of : What would Jesus say about how our church is fulfilling it’s mission? Would he say that we were not representing him well?
    Certainly, I believe there are churches where he shows up every time the doors are open and others where the real Jesus would never feel welcome.
    I like what Brennen Manning asks in a sermon about what people believe Jesus would say to them personally if he walked down the isle. And his conclusion that Jesus would only ask “Did you believe me when I said I loved you?”
    Of course, I can’t find that video right now, but this one is close enough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQi_IDV2bgM

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