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Corner of Church St and Market St Wollongong 8am, 9:30am, 11am, 5pm & 7pm each Sunday

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Not just an attender

View from the pew

He turned around and asked me through a mouthful of banana bread “which church do you go to?” and without hesitation I responded, “I attend St Michael’s”.

This was a simple question from a friend who I’m sure has already forgotten my answer. It’s a question that I’m sure you’ve been asked numerous times, and a question that you will probably be asked numerous times in the future.

I lay in bed that night and reflected on my answer (somehow God must have designed pillows to trigger the reflection portion of our brains)! I asked myself if that was the best response I could have given.

After all, he got the answer he was looking for! But something about my response made me feel uneasy…

In the book of 1 Kings, the author details an incredible temple built by the great king Solomon. It is a temple built with costly stones and laden with gold. People come from long and far just to see this temple in all its glory.

Fast-forward to the book of Ephesians, and Paul says something so astounding that is almost unbelievable:

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.    [Ephesians 2:19-21]

The church is a holy temple to the Lord! But it is a temple more glorious than that of king Solomon’s, not built from fine stones or of gold, but of something much more precious. It is built from a people redeemed by the blood of Jesus; and incredibly this same Jesus, our chief cornerstone, holds it all together.

So what was it that made me uneasy about my answer?

In light of this glorious picture of the universal church, which reflects in our local church, doesn’t the response of “I attend” fall so far short of the truth? It subtly sends the message that I am an onlooker, rather than being a part of the very composition of our church.

I’m not just an attender of St Michael’s. By God’s grace I’m a member in the same way my arm is not an ‘attender’ of my body, but one of its members. No surprise that 1 Corinthians 12 describes the church as a body, with many members performing different roles.

What an incredible God we have that he would use wretched sinners like us to be his temple and dwelling place. So next time someone asks me what church I go to, I hope to remember the glorious truth that I’m one of the many members of St Michael’s, part of the holy temple to the Lord, joined together by Jesus Christ our cornerstone.

I hope to say with confidence that I am a member of St Michael’s.

OR

I hope to say with confidence that I am a member of the household of God at St Michael’s.

Warmly in Christ,
Jonny Hann
(Night Church, Steadfast Youth Leader)

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Corner of Church St and Market St Wollongong