Man there's a lot of noise and activity going on behind those four walls. So much energy and time spent in there. That little guy is so busy! He never comes out. You reach in and try to take him out of that cage and he bites you. He's just not used to being out. Poor little guy doesn't know how to socialize outside of his cage. If you get him out and put him down he'll run off into a corner all by himself. He gets scared being outside of the cage. Oh, well, pick him up, put him back in the cage where he's comfortable and feels safe, where he can run in his little hamster wheel and spend lots of time and energy going nowhere. But isn't he so cute?
Dear friends, the "church building" is to be a place to be fed the Word of God, equipped for ministry, worship with other believers, discipled, counselled, trained and empowered to be an effective witness for the Lord Jesus Christ outside of the church building, in your home, workplace, school and community. Yet so many church buildings have become a Christian Commune, a closed community, a week long retreat center, and a cage for saints.
I have a challenge for you, ask yourself these questions:
Do you live at the church building, work all week at the church building, volunteer constantly at the church building, go to school at the church building, socialize primarily at the church building and have community only at the church building? Is your weekly schedule full of church events, functions, classes or socials that only take place in a church building? Do you find yourself retreating to church building events in order to regain strength to live for the Lord? Do you find that participating in functions at the church property make you feel like you're fulfilling your spiritual responsibilities and that because you attend church events you must be growing spiritually? If the church building vanished today would your spiritual life fall apart? Do you find yourself hardly ever around unbelievers, and when you are around them you tactfully avoid them, or casually avoid conversations about Jesus? Do you never schedule appointments or coffee or meals or gatherings to intentionally be around unbelievers? When you think about the word "Church" do think about a building or property?
Perhaps you've answered "yes" to a few, some or all of these questions. Then you could be a committed member of "Hamster Wheel Christianity."
In Hamster Wheel Christianity there are a lot of activities, events, and gatherings all week long behind the four walls of the Church Building. Believers are very busy doing what they think they're supposed to do, but as the weeks and months and years go by there is not a lot of eternally significant fruit from all their labors. By this I mean that they're not necessarily becoming more and more like Jesus Christ in their hearts, and few are actually making disciples of the lost neighborhoods, communities, cities and nations around them. If you take them out of their comfortable church schedule or building and put them in the world around unbelievers for an extended amount of time they cower and crumble under the pressure, and rather than winning the lost to Jesus, they whine about how sinful people are and run back into their church building so they can feel godly and spiritual again among the godly and spiritual.
If I were the devil I think I would do exactly what's being done today. Could Satan's strategy be to get as many Christians as possible to commit to as many church functions as possible, located at as many church buildings as possible so as to place as much of the Body of Christ behind bars in a pious prison, playing church and convinced they're actually fulfilling Christ's Great Commission of evangelizing the lost and making disciples of all nations, while the world outside the Christian prison goes to hell untouched by the saints playing church?
It's a sad truth that today when Christians and non-Christians think about the word "Church" that they think about a building, not believers. I was talking to an unbeliever about Christ the other day and like so many others he implied that I should be preaching and talking about God "at the church" where people want to hear it, not out here in the real world. We live in a time in Church History where "Church" is a building not believers, and serving God is an optional career choice, where God's Word and the Gospel should only be preached behind the four walls of a church building, going to "church" is just a personal preference on Sunday, like a hobby, some people play golf, some people build model trains, others ride motorcycles, and some "go to church." What a sad concept of what it means to be part of God's Family.
As followers of Christ we should want to redeem the concept of the "Church" from all the worldly ideas, all the traditional baggage, and all the Hamster Wheel Christianity distortions. The "Church" is nothing less than God's own redeemed Children, Reborn People who have God inside of them, the Body of Christ, the eternal wife and Bride of Jesus Christ, a people who will live forever enjoying God together. This is no hobby.This is heaven's people living on earth. Not a bunch of hamsters in a cage, busy running in a wheel that's going nowhere.
It's OK for animals to get used to cages, for a bird to be comfortable in a birdcage, or a dog in a kennel, or a fish in a tank, or even a hamster in a cage. But a Christian should never be comfortable just going to a church building, week after week, year after year. God's Children were not saved to be shut up, cooped up, locked up or leashed. We are not to be trained by the devil to stay in a cage, even if it looks like a nice building with a cross on the front and lots of fun things to do inside, that is not to be our home. God has saved us to send us out, not shut us in.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." Matthew 28:19
"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8