But as I was looking through the photos on our church website, it helped me remember that City Church is not a building; it is the "household of God" (Ephesians 2:19) and the "family of believers" (Galatians 6:10 NIV). City Church is the Stacks, the Walkers, the Bourgeoises, the Bonkovskys, the Bryants, the Warshaws, the Blanchards, the Shays, the Crawfords. It's Gabe and Ellen and Ruthie and Todd and Jessee--all the wonderful people who gather every week to hear the gospel of God's grace to us in Christ, respond in prayer and praise, and to gather around the table to eat dinner with Jesus. The real church sits in the pews.
"The God who made the world and everything in it ... does not live in temples made by man," the apostle Paul reminds us (Acts 17:24). "In him [Christ] you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22). It is the people of City Church that make the building special, not vice versa. It is when we meet and because we meet in Jesus' name that the building becomes special, infused with the presence of Jesus by his Spirit. "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them" (Matthew 18:20). That fellowship with Jesus and one another in him is what brings us joy (see 1 John 1:1-4). And this is not mere sentimentalism, but some kind of holy mystery that exists among those who belong to God.
Olivia and I are in the process of closing on a wonderful new house God has provided us in the Lakeside area of Richmond. Just blocks away in "the white house" we rekindled our relationship in 2007 and began our married life in Richmond in 2009. Yet as sad as it is to leave the white house or even our current apartment of 3-1/2 years, it's not the house that is important. The address is simply the context for the memories--the questions and anxieties of our lives, the gladness of marital bliss, the challenges faced in our sin and the sweet joys of forgiveness, the birth of a child and watching him grow. But we are that house, so that house will never die no matter where it moves.
|Our new house!|