Have you ever wondered about what church would be like for God?
I don’t mean if God was to rock up to your local church one Sunday morning. But what would it look like for God to sit in on all the local gatherings going on at once?
This idea has been tickling my imagination during Covid season. I imagine it would look like a giant Zoom session.
I’ll explain if you’ll bear with me.
The Tension of Community
Recently I had a conversation with Ben Connelly, a pastor of Salt+Light in Texas. I asked how he felt about meeting over Zoom as a church. He shared the blessing Zoom has been in bringing us together during difficult times. But it’s also created a sense of longing. The connection of hearing each other sing and speak creeds together is lost.
I get what Ben’s saying. Followers of Jesus are made for community. The number of ‘one another’s’ and ‘you all’s’ make it clear the Christian life is meant to be done together.
A tension exists when we, though called to community, cannot come together. I experience this tension. Salt+Light is my community, but an ocean separates us.
Last Sunday Sarah graciously helped the kids see God is a better source of comfort.
Marvin is always full of enthusiasm.
Luke and Emily faithfully lead us in worshiping God despite the weirdness of Zoom.
I learned this week Ashley founded a non-profit supporting asylum seekers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
‘The other Ben’ walks us through the Psalms as living prayers connecting to our daily lives.
Matt and Nicole seem so rock solid.
Camp is quieter than most, but when he speaks you lean forward.
I could go on.
These are my people. An ocean lies between us. I don’t know if I will see them face to face, but they are my people.
Zoom is a blessing for our faith community. It’s brought us together, but also leaves a yearning for more.
Feeling this yearning is right because church on Zoom is a picture of a bigger reality.
A Bigger Story
I’ve sat in churches before and been told how we were joining with countless others around the world in worshiping Jesus that day. I know these words are true, but they struggle to capture my imagination.
The Church is more than the local community of believers meeting down the road. It is God’s people scattered throughout the world. The Church is the body of Jesus seeking God’s kingdom in the world and inviting others to join in.
Yes, we gather in local communities. And yes, we often use the word ‘church’ in the name. But the Church is all of us gathered together spread out across the world. It is a scattered gathering.
Salt+Light has become a metaphor for me to understand the scattered gatheredness of the Church. Zoom is the platform allowing our scatteredness to gather. It’s a picture of unity; the body of Christ joined together.
Zoom has been a great platform for bringing the scattered together. But it heightens an awareness that the Church is scattered across the world. To truly see the Church as both scattered and gathered leads to desiring God to gather his Church together.
The Church’s confession is that Jesus its center. We point to Jesus’ redemptive work to create us citizens of heaven. We see Jesus ascended and enthroned as the core of our gathered communities.
God will gather his Church together in a fully realized way, but that’s tomorrow’s story. That day is coming when Jesus returns.
Meanwhile, we live in the tension of the now and the not yet. It is the reality where God’s kingdom has broken into our world, but isn’t fully present. In this tension, how can we not look forward with hope?
So, what does Church look like for God? Maybe Zoom is too simple, but it reminds me that God’s people are both scattered and gathered, and it creates the longing to see Jesus’ kingdom fully present.