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Michael L. Brown is the founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, North Carolina, Director of the Coalition of Conscience, and host of the daily, nationally, syndicated talk radio show, the Line of Fire, as well as the host of the apologetics TV show, “Answering Your Toughest Questions.” He is the author of more than 35 books, holds a Ph. D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University, and has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at seven leading seminaries. He is widely recognized as today’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist.
We know the words of Jesus in Matthew's gospel, that He "will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." But what's He talking about? He's obviously not talking about a physical building. The Ekklesia was certainly a known concept, and if He was speaking in Hebrew or Aramaic, He would have been using words that were known — like in Hebrew, Qahal for example — the congregation, the congregation of Israel. It was an old concept, but He was now speaking of something new — that His messianic congregation would be unique, and it would be Jew and Gentile together, and it would be empowered by the Spirit, and nothing could stop it.
So the reminder is, even though the New Testament emphasizes to us the importance of gathering together, in Hebrews 10:25, and the New Testament speaks to a communal group, so that we are not to isolate ourselves, at the same time, we have put so much emphasis on going to a building, and having meetings in a building and even a form of spectator Christianity, that the crisis, the current crisis, provides us with a great opportunity to ask: what does it mean to be the Church? Yes, going to church meetings is wonderful and important and beautiful. There's something special that happens in a corporate environment, and many things that we're called to do and expected to do corporately. And yet the great emphasis is not so much on a physical building — or building a physical building — but rather, on being the people of God.
What a perfect opportunity for us to have a divine reset. To ask the question, what does it mean to be the church? In my book When the World Stops, I have a chapter that asks that very question. What is church and how do we do it?
So as much as we can miss gathering together — and the flow of life that comes out of that is something precious and beautiful — I'm quite sure that this is an opportunity for us to ask deeper questions so that when we can meet together again in public, rather than going back to normal, we will be better than normal. Better than we were before, with a better understanding of what it means. Not just to go to the church meetings, but to be the church in our communities, on our campuses, and the places that God puts us.
May the Lord enable you to shine in a unique way in this day.
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