“So, where do you go to church?” I use to hate that question. It’s been ten years since I attended the Presbyterian Church in town, and still, I run across people I sat next to in those pews, but haven’t seen since then. We bump into each other in the grocery store or coffee shop, and they always ask, “So CJ, where do you go to church now?”
I always felt awkward replying to the question, for I haven’t attended a regular church since leaving Presby. Oh, in my early days as a de-churched orphan, I test-drove other churches in town, but for reasons I don’t totally understand, I never felt like going back.
So my answer to the question usually starts with, “Well, um, you see. I don’t go to church. Haven’t since leaving Presby.”
My inquisitor usually gets that look, maybe you’ve seen it. Their face fills with concern and fear for my soul. They immediately believe I’ve left Christianity and jumped into the black pit of heathendom.
“However,” I truthfully add, “I feel closer to Jesus and God now than I ever have before.”
The look changes from concern and fear to confusion. How could that be, how could someone find closeness to God and Jesus without attending church? My fellow pew-sitter from the past and I usually part ways, with them still wondering about my soul (I suspect), and me felling I didn’t get my message across.
But now I have a better answer to the question.
Where do I go to church? Well, my Church doesn’t have a name, and there is no building. For me, Church is not a place—it’s a belief. When do I go to church? Whenever I want, and it’s not just Sunday. I go to church every day, any time of the day, whenever I can wrestle my thoughts away from the outside world and look inside, to Jesus within me.
Jesus tells us in the Bible that Church, the one true Church, is wherever His Spirit lives. In the Old Testament times, the Spirit of God resided in the Temple, in the back room called the Holy of Holies. But Jesus changed all that.
As He said, His Spirit now lives within all who believe in Him and believe what He promised. He promised that His Spirit would be IN us, and we IN Him. You’ve heard the phrase, you body is a Temple. So true, if you believe.
Look inside, to the Spirit of Jesus within you, and you will find the one true Church.
Here are some of my favorite Bible verses on the subject:
Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)
He also said, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20)
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? … for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)
“But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6)
As Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4)