Sanctifying Church Talk

 

As our mind is transformed to think like Christ, the language we use should become like the language of Christ. I am in the process of having my speech sanctified, and lately, I have found myself genuinely convicted over the way I speak of the church. The cultural conditioning of my “church talk” is proving a difficult obstacle to overcome, and I feel led to help others who might be dealing with the same struggle. I would also like to do my part to improve the “church talk” of my community. Perhaps this will make it a little simpler for those of us who desire a more sanctified speech life.

Here are three things I would like to see transformed in the way I and others speak of the Church.

1. The church is not a building. It is a body.

This error is so deeply engrained in our thinking that it is going to be the most difficult error to correct. When Jesus spoke of His church, he was not speaking of a building located in Jerusalem. He was talking about the body of redeemed-called-out-ones for whom He died, so why is it that we so routinely equate a building with “the church?”

I confess that I may be the worst offender on this one. Several times a week, when someone asks of my whereabouts, I will tell them I am “at the church.” I will tell my wife I need to go by “the church” to pick up something from the office. This kind of talk perverts the word that Jesus used to describe His bride. I have to be intentional about using a different phrase (“I am at the office… need to go by the building”). The problem, though, runs much deeper than just me. I have been trained by my culture to think of the church as a building. This is a tragedy that needs redeeming.

2. The Church is not a body of defense. It is redeemed body established to reach the lost.

When Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). He did not mean that His redeemed people would hole themselves up beyond locked gates to keep the world from “getting them.” On the contrary, Jesus’ vision for the Church is one that would storm the gates of hell and snatch from the flames, those who are perishing. His church was established to be a launch pad for missions, rather than an underground survival bunker.

Like what is pictured in Ezekiel 37, God has raised up an army out of a field of dry bones. Ezekiel reported of His vision: “I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army” (Ez. 37:10). Later God would speak to His people saying, “You shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves. And I will put my Spirit within you and you shall live” (Ez. 37:13-14). This prophecy was partially fulfilled when He brought Judah out of captivity, and it was perfectly fulfilled at Pentecost. The Church is the army who He raised up and in whom He placed His life-giving Spirit. Jesus declared that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the advance of His army

3. My church is not my church. She belongs to Jesus.

I love First Baptist Wiggins. No I mean I really love her. My love for the local church is eclipsed only by my love for Jesus and my love for my wife and children. This is as it should be. As in love as I am with FBC, I understand that she is another man’s wife. There are boundaries that I must not cross.

When my vision for the church does not match Christ’s vision, I must be disciplined enough to say “too bad for my vision.” When my preferences and wants for FBC do not match Christ’s, then too bad for my wants and preferences. When the way I speak of her does not honor Him and point her back to Him, then too bad for my bad speaking habits. To do otherwise is to commit the worst kind of adultery.