The word translated Church in the Bible comes from the Greek ekklesia:
Ekklēsía (from ek, “out from and to” and kaléō, “to call”) – properly, people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church (the mystical body of Christ)—i.e. the universal (total) body of believers whom God calls out from the world and into His eternal kingdom.
There is a lot there. Lets look at: 1. called out, 2. into God’s reign, and 3. sent.
The recent baptisms at Hilltop have been accompanied with a banner that states the child’s name and that the child has been called by God. We believe that participation is an individual action where we make a public assent to God, to ourselves, and to a community. We are called out from the world to be part of this community to nurture us, to hold us accountable, and to grow. We hear accountability words as challenging, but it is biblical for others in this community to remind us when we fail in our covenantal responsibilities. They invite us to see where we have been called out by God to serve in the reign of God.
Often we have the view that our gifts and graces are inadequate to the tasks placed before us. I can relate. When I was feeling this gentle but persistent urging that is part of a call, my overarching sensation was “I am so not qualified here.” I now know I was wrong. When God calls Moses, Samuel, Gideon, Mary, and others they respond, “are you sure about this?” Eventually all of them say “Here I am, send me.” As “Church” we stand in front “the Church” and say “Here I am, send me.” We send you out, as “the Church” to make a difference in God’s world.
Too often we run into churches that have an inward focus. Sometimes that includes a borderline siege mentality: we are going to retreat behind these walls and allow the world to just “go to hell.” Fortresses that see themselves under siege are often being starved to death by that attitude. The church is where we actually care if you have been, are in, or are heading to hell. There are souls tormented by a living hell, possessed by demons that God’s Grace can help heal.
Yes, we are called out. We are called out in order to experience the mystical presence of God. Once we have experienced that mystical presence of God, we are called to be sent out to heal others. A big task, but we worship a big God, a God, a Lord, we say we belong to. I tremble a little in excitement about what God is doing here at Hilltop. We are at so many levels embarking on call journeys where we truly feel sent to make a difference in our world. I am proud to be the pastor of a community where this idea of call, in order to be sent, is in a state of becoming such a strong element of our creed. Hilltop is truly a place where all can belong, so that they can deepen their beliefs, and become what God has called them to be.
Selah, Pastor Dennis