I’m inspired by the disciple Philip, how at the first realization of Jesus being the Messiah went and called others (John 1). I am also inspired by Nathaniel who after questioning the Savior found out for himself that indeed Jesus was the Christ, the Savior the world had been waiting for (John 1). Later in the twelfth chapter of the book of John we read of Greeks who had come to worship in Jerusalem ask Philip if they could see Jesus, and Philip having told Andrew went on ahead to tell Jesus of their request. These men are all so very inspiring to me.
From the first paragraph there are some important things to realize. Firstly, these men had all studied the prophecies that spoke of a soon coming Messiah and some of them visited the synagogue every Sabbath but they had still not met Jesus, like all of us they were still waiting. Secondly, despite all they had heard and studied about the Messiah and despite all their church visits these men recognized this Messiah outside of the church. Jesus met His disciples in their day to day activities. Some He found fishing, some He found tax collecting and others He found in their adultery. Thirdly, people from afar had made it a custom to come up to Jerusalem, some travelling hundreds of miles, just to be in the presence of God. Some of these people were not even Jews but they came and in the book of John, the twelfth chapter we read of Greeks asking to meet this Jesus everybody was talking about.
Now this reasoning then poses some crucial questions- where was Jesus all this time? When they came to worship Him was He not present? During the sanctuary services was Jesus not there? What about the believing Greeks that never met Him or the Samaritans who were not allowed to worship in Jerusalem had they never had an encounter with Christ?
In the book of Revelation Jesus tells us that He is the Alfa and Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 1). In the first chapter of the book of John we read that Jesus existed from before the earth existed. The chapter explains how He was with the Father in the beginning and that He is eternal (John 1). Later in the book of John Jesus also tells the Pharisees that He existed before Abraham existed, He says ‘before Abraham was I was’ (John 8). With all these references and more it is safe to say that the Christ had always been there. He was present in the synagogue as much as He was in the home.
Things have changed. People have this firm belief that the only place Jesus can be found is in the church. I see many so called believers inviting their non-believing friends to church in a hope that they will meet Jesus and be saved. This has proven to be a disaster. What these so called non-believers find is a hypocritical bunch of people. They meet gossipers in church. They meet ridicule. They meet jealousy, adultery, hate and many other things that have nothing to do with God. Instead of coming back from church changed they go back into life either worse or with a picture of how alike their sinfulness is with those within the church.
A sad truth is that people’s hearts have not changed. They claim to have met the Jesus because they go to church and know how to interpret some. There are many chains people use nowadays to tie you to the heathen category but what these people do not know is that they are naked, poor and blind (Revelation 3). The bible says that these people worship Him with their lips but their hearts are far from Him (Isaiah 29vs13).
My walk with God has been a very personal one. I have always allowed Him to mold me despite it being painful a lot of the times. I used to be a hypocrite. I used to have the same hypocritical mindset. I was a Pharisee in a lot of ways but I thank God because He has changed me and has removed some faulty characteristics from my character. By talking my time to personally get to know God I’ve come to discover a lot more about faith.
Mary of Magdala met Jesus when she was about to die. This was not in a church, no it was outside the church. She met Jesus after having been caught in adultery- she did not even deny the accusation! Who wanted to stone her? The people from church. Paul did not meet Jesus in the church but He met Christ outside the church, on his way to persecute God’s people. He later on talks of how misguided he was by church custom and by his misdirected zeal (Acts 22). The disciples met Jesus as they were doing their daily duties. And an excluded Samaritan town found their Salvation because a Samaritan woman met a Man who told her ‘all that she ever did’. I mean a lot of examples can be brought up but if you study the few I have mentioned you will learn that Jesus found people were they were.
Do not get me wrong, I am not putting down the church, church is very good. Somewhere in the Bible we are instructed to not ‘forsake the gathering together of the saints’. This can also be debated because gathering together in the name of God does not mean it has to be in the church. There is no building on this earth that can contain God, no building good enough. Jesus’ building of choice is the church in our hearts. What I am trying to bring out with all this however is that church is not the only place that people will find salvation.
Some people find Christ at church, you know after a powerful service but some find Jesus at home, some at work and some in calamity. Jesus is omnipresent, He is everywhere and to the heart that truly seeks for Him He is more than willing to meet anywhere. Coming to church should be a result of the work of salvation or sanctification.
I do not know your struggle as a person nor do I know whether you believe in God or not but be encouraged by this- the church is not the only place to find Jesus. He is right where you are, calling!
This article was originally posted on the Consolation Project