By Not Known
Somebody once commented, “There’s no difference between a mega church gathering and a multimillion-dollar pop concert… it’s all about popularity draw…” Whether it is an ignorant opinion or an undeniable perception, this statement raises several crucial questions, one of which is – of what does a church consist?
The first Christian church was not seeded in a convention hall with publicity flyers shoved into letter boxes or spread over full pages of newspapers. The first church was not called to order by a preacher of a celebrity’s stature, or served by ushers in pressed suits, or enchanted by well-rehearsed musicians. On the contrary, just as the King of the Jews was found lying in the most unlikely of all places, a manger, the first church was seeded beside the Sea of Galilee, by an unaccompanied preacher with a rather unpopular gospel. The first would-be Christians were gathered from amongst the fishing boats; an unlikely gathering to eventually shoulder the apostolic commission?
Our Lord Jesus had won to himself many fans and foes in the course of his earthly ministry. Many were impressed by his teachings and mesmerised by his miraculous deeds. Others called him a liar and a lunatic. They either hailed him or hated him, each according to their agenda. And when the sparks were gone, and the reality hit home, many deserted him and fled (Matt 26:56b). So much for a fan… a sobering reflection of what you and I could be.
It is interesting that all four gospels variously accounted for the calling of the first disciples (Matt 4:18-22; Mk 1:14-20; Lk 5:1-11; Jn 1:35-51). At the heart of each calling account, and in fact vital to it, is the preached gospel concerning Christ and his kingdom (Matt 4:17; Mk 1:15; Lk 4:43; Jn 1:36), and the necessity of repentance. Whether the first disciples had sought Jesus out or were sought out by him, they followed him eventually. What for? There was nothing to gain. No wealth. No fame. Instead, more suffering and shame. Even Simon Peter, the confessor of Christ and the Rock (Matt 16:16-18), committed the terrible sin of disowning Christ (Matt 26:69ff). Only Jesus alone could restore him back to himself and with a renewed call, “Follow me!” (Jn 21:19)
Every Sunday, every Christmas, and every Easter, many will gather in churches, but not all who gather are true to Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. Many are fans; few are followers. Which are you?
A new year has just begun. Let us as a church consider Christ’s calling anew. Let us encourage one another to be followers worthy of him. And when we do falter, pray by his mercy to restore us. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (1 Thess 5:24)