R A N D O M R
A N T S
In the City of Nashville, practically everywhere there's a road, one is likely to find a church nearby. Some in poor neighborhoods, often badly in need of repair. Others are multi-million dollar edifices, with enough surrounding land to build an entire village of tiny homes for the homeless and, enough parking for a good-size sporting event.
Many people today seem blissfully unaware the term "church" in the Bible doesn't refer to a building of any kind. It also says in this seldom actually read collection of works that God doesn't live in temples made with hands. In fact, we find this rather anti-religious view twice in the same book of Acts and, a similar idea is found in both Hebrews and in Peter's first letter.
"Church" in the Bible doesn't refer to a religion or a religious organization or brand, like a Baptist or Catholic church. It may serve to unhinge more than a few American Constitutional wonks, to learn that separation of "church" and state has no biblical basis or meaning.
Historians disagree on where the term "church" originates. Some believe it was originally used by the Romans, roughly referring to a gathering of common people for socio/political purpose. Unlike for example, a meeting of the powerful and elite.
In the New Testament, this term seems to have been chosen by Jesus himself to refer to his followers. Thus, the word "church" in the Bible refers to people, whether a small group or large gathering or, the collective followers of Jesus. Within the entire Bible, "church" does not ever refer to anything else, other than to actual people.
Groups of Jesus followers often gathered in private homes and apparently sometimes lived together in the same larger home complex. Other times, public gathering places may have been used or, out in the open weather permitting.
These churches weren't led by a preacher or priest. Several different people might sing or speak as they were so moved and, sometimes the whole group might sing. Apparently they would often eat and socialize as well. Very much a free unscripted atmosphere compared to modern 'church' services, typically held in austere buildings with rigid pre-planned programming and uncomfortable wooden pews.
Some have remarked that "church" would be a lot better without the preaching, when folks take unnecessary bathroom breaks or, duck out rather early. Unlike modern churches, which take up collections to pay for expensive buildings and maintenance and far too often, obscene preacher salaries, palatial housing and a private jet or two, real churches in the Bible took up collections for the poor, even when very poor themselves.
Those of us not attached to any church organization are left wondering why, in a nation of ostensible separation of church and state, we are forced to subsidize exempt religious properties. Perhaps if these 'churches' really wanted to honor God, you know, the God who doesn't live in temples made with hands, they would convert their so-called "churches" into housing for the homeless and poor.
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