I was thinking back to high school graduation. I had some good friends and some best friends… at school. We were constantly together… at school. We did everything together… at school. But when school ended, most of the relationships that were associated with school ended too. I’ve heard from many people that they often never see former classmates again unless they attend a class reunion. Once in a while a relationship may endure, but generally the relationship ends or is greatly diminished shortly after graduation.
With these thoughts in mind, I was watching some of my high school students today. They were working together on their class work. They were talking, laughing, and smiling. When one was finished, she walked over to another group and talked with them for a few minutes. Then she went on to another group and talked with them. She was smiling and looked to be having a great time. But it struck me that the reason she was talking with these people was because the bell hadn’t rung yet. If she could have left to go home, she would have. Being with those people really wasn’t her #1 choice for how to spend her time. If there was no school, she probably wouldn’t have called any of them and sought out their companionship today. Similarly, after she graduates, she will most likely go her separate way.
“Church” (as defined by our culture rather than the word of God) seems to perform a similar function for many people. Picture some people talking in the lobby of a church building. They are smiling and genuinely appear to be enjoying themselves. In fact, they honestly feel like they are enjoying nice “fellowship”. But if they searched their hearts and got very honest with themselves, perhaps they’d discover that they aren’t really “fellowshipping” at all. Why are they together in the lobby? If there was no “church service” that day would they still have sought out one another’s companionship? Do they seek to be with each other and “fellowship” outside of regularly scheduled “church functions”? Are they together on this Sunday morning because they love one another deeply from the heart or because of the calendar and the clock on the wall telling them it’s Sunday at 10am and that’s where they are supposed to be? Are they together today because they are supposed to “go to church” and they feel guilty if they don’t?
Can you see it? Do you see the similarity between the school organization and the church organization? The relationships are much shallower than the Scriptures describe and prescribe. All it takes is a job transfer and people generally choose their jobs over the many supposedly close brother-sister relationships. Please read Acts 2:42-47, 1 Cor. 12, Heb. 3:12-13.
The religious organizing has caused and contributed to superficial, artificial and shallow relationships between believers. “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth and you love one another unhypocritically, now choose to love one another deeply from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). “Church” and “Fellowship” are much deeper and much better than what culture and tradition has set out before us. “Love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU” can’t be done merely from 9am-noon in a religious building. Jesus’ love is deeper than that! Choose to go deeper too.