From as far back as he could remember, he had always heard of it.  It was something that, for the most part, he just took for granted. It was never really close up. It was just out there. He guessed it had always been around and he supposed it always would be. He thought of it as mysterious and was somewhat leery of it. As he grew, be became aware that for some people, it was like a necessity in their life. He was somewhat puzzled over that assumption. His casual observation of it, delivered him to the  point of limited understanding on the matter. His concluding position for a number of years to come would be that it was a good thing for those who needed it. ” What kind of person needed it?” He wondered. After giving it much thought, he determined that those who had big problems were the ones who most needed it.  As he evaluated all of his thoughts concerning it, he didn’t feel like he would have much use for it in his own life. But as he approached manhood, he would encounter it over and over again. Then, when he was a young man in his early twenties, something happened that caused him to rethink all that had been settled in his mind as a boy. Unexpectedly, he became exposed to it! ……..

What is it?… It is living. It is colorful. It is very old but at the same time it is new. It’s like a big puzzle, made up of many small individual pieces . It is hated by some and loved by others. There are those who claim to have been hurt by it and yet others will testify that it has promoted healing for them. Some fear it and some are comforted by it.

What is it?… It is the same year after year but it’s rapidly changing. It is one, yet it is many. Some will do everything they can to stay away from it, while others will give up much to be near it and to watch what it does. At times it is very powerful. Other times, pitifully  weak. It was very expensive. Now it is free! Some will search for it in vain, while others will stumble over it.

What is it?… You can find it in the city and in the country as well. It can be seen growing in some of the most remote areas of the world. It can be damaged, beaten and struck down, but never destroyed. Despite it’s many blemishes, it is perfect. It once was contaminated but now it is pure! Some pass it by, claiming it is useless to them, while others view it as being essential for healthy living.

What is it? … It has a temporary shell, but is most effective when it breaks through it’s shell into the surrounding area. It is called by many names and yet it can be defined by one word. Some view it as being small and insignificant.  In truth, it’s presence is felt worldwide. Because of it, the world is a much safer place. When it is healthy, a small part of it can be planted with remarkable results.

What is it? … Sometimes it remains in one spot. However, it seems to have been designed to branch out. You may never see it climb, although when the son is close to the earth, it will rise. It’s origin is recorded in history. Not only has it survived for centuries, it has thrived! Many will observe it from a distance while some are brave enough to walk in it.

What is it? …  Now it is quite visible. One day it will not be seen. Then it will be seen again, but it will look different.

Well, I’ve given you a lot of clues here, so you have probably guessed “it”. What’s that you say?… YES! It is the “church.” Made up of multitudes of people commonly referred to as “Christians”, mentioned in the Bible one time in Acts,11:26, or “believers”, mentioned 49 times in the New Testament. Sinners who have been forgiven and saved. The Bible speaks of the church as the bride of Christ and as the redeemed of the ages, past, present and future. All those who have repented and been captured by the grace of God. Women, men and children who have been washed and purified in the crucified blood of Jesus.  Purchased by the greatest and only sufficient sacrifice ever offered. The sinless and perfect Lamb of God. His Son, Jesus Christ.. Rescued from the darkness, thanks to the mercy of God, and spared from the clutches of our own sin and Satan himself to rise in victory and become a new creation. A new creation that is peculiar to the world. A new creation that loves God and is committed to following Him and learning His ways. A new creation that attempts to love others as God has loved them. All this is not done because we, the church of God, feel like a new creation. No, it’s because of the faith and understanding that He has given us so we can trust our lives to Him, no matter how we feel, and stand strong on the promises He has given us through the Word. In II Corinthians, 5:17, He promises us that we ARE a new creation. Destined for great things, not because of who we are, but because of who He is!

The Scriptures inform us in the Book of Acts that the early church was persecuted. As a result the church began to spread around the world. That persecution has never stopped. Although most of the news media does not report it, today it continues to increase, year by year. However, we have another promise in II Corinthians, chapter 4, that assures us that no matter what happens to us in this life, we, the church, can never be destroyed and will never be abandoned by God. Jesus spoke of this as well.  We read in Matthew, 16:18, when Jesus was speaking to the Apostle, Peter, He said,”…On this rock I will build my church and not even the gates of Hades will overcome it.” What the Apostle, Paul, instructed the elders at Ephesus to do, as he was saying goodbye to them for the last time, may be good practice for us all, regardless if we are an overseer or if we consider ourselves just a brother or sister in Christ. Paul said to them in Acts, 20:28, ” Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.

…….. He had always thought of it as a noun. An object in one place. To his surprise, he discovered that it was steadily being transformed into a verb! It was anything but an object in one place. It was always on the move. It would begin wherever it was at and branch out as far as it’s abilities and resources  could carry it. It would reach out to that which was unlovely, poor, broken in body and spirit. When all hope was gone, it would find ways to encourage and build back that which had been carelessly destroyed. When it would find that which was lost and had been thrown away, it would, by example, show how something could be saved and remade into a thing of great value. He also discovered that it had a unique ability to feed the hungry with a food more nutritious than anything grown on the earth.

Decades passed and now he was on the other end of life. One day, while crossing a river by walking on the large flat rocks that formed a waterfall, he stopped in the middle of the river. For a few minutes he just stood there, watching all that was being carried by the current around his feet and over the falls. Relating it to his life, remembering all that he could of what and who had touched his life from his beginning to the present time. He laughed.”How ironic,” he thought. As a young boy, he was often curious why people felt they needed ” it” in their life and what was so special about it? Now, he couldn’t imagine living a fulfilling life without it. And wasn’t it odd how he had stumbled across it those many years before? Walking on across the river, he continued thinking about it,” Do you suppose that it could have been planted in his pathway at a strategic point where he couldn’t miss it?” He smiled.

Lingering, to catch one more sunset, he reflected on how blessed he was to have found it years ago. More importantly, how thankful he was to now know in a personal way, the designer and creator of “it” and everything else.

What is it to you?

Bob

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