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Opinions of Saturday, 20 April 2019

Columnist: David Bethel

The “bycycle” church II

In our previous post, we established a few points that when kept, will bring us to that place of absolute understanding on this subject. We have already mentioned that the Church is the body of Christ; the called out; the sanctified.

We have also placed emphasis on this truth; that the place of the church cannot be likened to that of a religion. We mentioned that religion is more of activities expressed on the outside and aimed at gaining the attention of God, whiles the Church, on the other hand, is the entity that is in constant fellowship with the Father through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

Let’s have a look at one interesting scripture. I will encourage you to pay more attention to the kind of description given to the church in the scripture below;

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

1 Cor 1:1-2 (KJV)

Paul refers to the church as them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus. What does it mean to be sanctified? And what does it mean to be sanctified in Christ Jesus? What’s the relevance of sanctification in this context? What then becomes the function of the church?

Let’s take a moment to answer the questions above which eventually would bring us to the realization of goal of this piece.

What does it mean to be sanctified? Sanctification would attract a couple of connotations and literal meanings based on what context they’ve been placed in. To be sanctified means to be set apart, to be consecrated. When someone or something is set apart, it means that the said entity has been separated from others. It signals the existence of other similar entities. You can only set apart or separate an entity when there are other entities, sometimes of a same source but not unswervingly identical in their outlook. There cannot be a separation of one kind of object from another of the same kind with the exact features.

What this means is that you cannot be separated from other Ghanaians (A Ghanaian is someone who comes from Ghana – West Africa) if the basis for the separation is nationality. You can, however, be separated from other Ghanaians as a Ghanaian when the basis of the separation has to do with ethnicity. This is because there is more than one ethnic group in Ghana. You can as well be separated as a Ghanaian from other Ghanaians based on gender. And that is also because there are both male and female Ghanaians, even though they are all Ghanaians. Thus with this understanding we get to grab the fact that the church or members of the Church are also human beings, but human beings that have been set apart from other human beings living in the same world.

Another meaning to the word sanctified used by Paul, the Apostle to describe the Church is to Purify or the Purified. What does it mean to purify or to be purified? To purify means to clean or cleanse. We all will share the understanding that nothing gets cleansed or cleaned when it is not dirty, whether the dirt particles are visible or not. You sometimes wouldn’t see the amount of dirt accumulated on an object until you have it cleansed. To purify also means to disinfect or decontaminate. The relevance of these two words translates into restoring an entity from an infection detrimental to its original self. Disinfectants are aimed at removing harmful stuff that were originally not a part of the said entity – to keep it at its best. Infections are aimed at weakening and disfiguring the quality of an entity. I am thriving on these meanings to bring to light what the “church” actually is and so I plead you don’t lose focus of this eternal truth.

One more meaning to the word describing the church is approval or to be approved of. This is a word mostly assigned by authorities or people of Power. You gain approval to do many things by the bearers of the said authority. Food and Drugs Authorities reserves the Power to approve of any consumable products before they make their way into the market. Same applies to the “Church” in this perspective. The Church has the approval of God, through Christ Jesus, haven met all the necessary requirements and even more. (Ref: 1Corinthians 1:2b). Let’s get this right, do we sometimes have some products that sneak their way into the market without the approval of the dignified authorities? Yes. Could this be true in the context of the church? Do we have purported churches without the approval of the Master? Your guess at this point should be as right as mine.

To conclude on the description of the church, we also come across this meaning that the church per the above scripture refers to a body set apart to function on a peculiar purpose. Now do we know this purpose? It is of very great relevance that as a body we set the record straight on what is it that we stand for, otherwise we are likely to misrepresent.

Before we push this through let’s kindly have a look at why I had to call this the “Bycycle church”. It is of seeming truth that most people who are ignorant of what the Body of Christ is have tried to define the church per what they see from the outside. Truth is, you can never be able to ascertain the core meaning and purpose of the church until you have encountered the Word of Truth, until you have had the revelation of the church from scripture. It is therefore shameful and heartbreaking to have a daily dose of people calling the church all sort of names, or I should say find people look at certain registered companies/institutions who have attached the word “church” to their names and chastise them with all sort of insults, thinking it is the same church for which Jesus died.

May I bring to the notice of such people that you are fighting amiss. If you really care to know about the real church, you better find out more about it from deeper places rather than social media and news headlines.

Isn’t it painful that the church today for so many people is being associated with the cycle of activities the held? Isn’t it pitiful that the “church” today is being described by the various events/festivities/enjoyments that are well spread on the church calendar? And so the church for some exist every Sunday, and not the rest of the week. For others, church is the listed programs they take interest in during the course of the year. I ask myself, why is the church full during Easter and empty during Wednesday Bible study? Why do some members put on black clothes, and some will even sit in ashes if allowed because to them Jesus has died on the Good Friday? Some will spend time fasting and weeping because its Good Friday and it commemorates the said day Jesus laid and died on the cross (which even is under contention whether or not Jesus was crucified on a Friday…). And I still ask myself why on Easter Sunday and perhaps Christmas days “church buildings” are full of people with so much joy, energy and exuberance and not the other Sunday services? For some parents the only time the whole family turns up to church is during these festivities and for others those are the only times they invite friends to “church”.

Let me be emphatic on the fact that I am not in any way against the beautiful memories we share during these moments. They are great. Besides, who wouldn’t love to eat chicken or have some of their favourite meals which commonly come along with the package these days? But have you also realized that it has gradually communicated to the outside world that the “church” today is on a certain cycle? Have we not grasped that even members who attend church have some default calendars on their minds on what church meetings are significant and those that are not so important and perhaps others that do not really matter to them? Does this not eventually inform their attendance to meetings? Can you now see the cycle? Do you now recognize that the “church” today is “By-cycle?” Is it now clear what the “Bycycle church” is? I attach the meaning to “cycle” in this context as “rotation”. And so the “church” seems to be on a rotation agenda? Yes, we get to see reports of souls that are won during these meetings, we get to see reports of joy and excitement during these moments, but; is that all the church of JESUS is supposed to be about?

We mentioned certain qualities that per scripture defines what the church is; consecrated, purified, blessed, approved of God and above all set apart to function on a peculiar purpose. And this was needful because the entire race of man, the proceeds of Adam have been contaminated by the sin of Adam and so deserved death but for Jesus. (Romans 5:19)

The church has been given enough power for miracles, healing etc. we confirm this in scriptures including the one below;

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen

Mark 16:15-20 (NKJV)

This is the Lord Jesus speaking to the eleven Disciples after resurrection and before he ascended into heaven. The Head of the church satisfied in full his assignment when He descended on earth, it is now our turn brethren.

This is how Paul, the Apostle puts it:

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross

Phil 2:5-8 (NKJV)

To you who is reading this, being you a member of a church or not, the baton has been handed unto us to run this race. There’s that great harvest but the labourers as Jesus said are few; within which there are purported labourers who have redefined their mandates.

Which assembly would you join? Which church are you a member of? The “Bycycle church?”

Look at this words of Jesus when it was all done;

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

John 20:21 (NKJV)

Would you respond to this call? For Jesus is calling, even today!

I end with a Prayer by the Lord Jesus in the book of John 17 before he was betrayed and eventually died;

15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 24 Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”