Mariah Fredericks, assistant women’s soccer coach
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
“Every 500 years, a shift happens in the church.”
These words were spoken to me in a college classroom, and they’ve stayed with me ever since. They were spoken by a beloved professor who I recognized walked closely with Jesus, continually saying yes to his leading in her teaching and in her life.
With her words, a curiosity was birthed; the church must be on the brink of change once again. Curiosity became a call. Every 500 years something changes, and God, whatever you’re doing, I want in.
Is the Church a ‘Who,’ or a ‘What?’
Let’s talk about the church: What is it? It’s not a building (if you’ve heard that catchy phrase). In fact, up until that point in my college experience I had been falling more and more in love with Jesus, but I had my suspicions about “the church.”
It turns out, after you say yes to Jesus, you become the church: “As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
Theologian and historian John Green says it like this:
“The Spirit continues the work of Christ in redemption through dwelling among the people of God: ‘where the church is, there is the spirit of God, and where the spirit of God is, there is the church, and all kinds of grace and the Spirit is truth.”
Ain’t that good?
So I looked for the coming shift. I kept my eyes open and entertained the constant question on my heart in conversation with God: When? And what would it look like? I heard echoes in other teachings.
Francis Chan, in his book Letters to the Church, says this: “God designed the church to be much more than what the majority of us experience in America. There are many of us who believe this and want change. The good news is that God wants this change even more than we do.”
But when, Lord? And what will it look like?
Would it look like homes becoming the primary places of worship and meeting with the living God? Would it look like believers from across the globe speaking words of encouragement to one another, in so many different languages. Would it look like people from different heritages serving the sick alongside one another globally?
In the year 451, at the Council of Chalcedon, leaders of the church met for one last time to clarify who Jesus was before spiraling into fragmentation; the church was starting to split.
In 1053, the Great Schism happened, and our family was estranged even more as two households of the global church (the East and the West) arose.
In 1517, the Reformation made the Bible accessible to laypeople, but still opinions and prides tore apart the church.
In 2020, what?
Young person: The church is shifting again, and we are a part of it.
But this isn’t about you, and it’s not about me. It’s bigger.
Heritage of Believers
For the first time in history, the world has been reconnected through communication and technology. Walls are coming down, and people are coming together. But how is there still brokenness? Why uncertainty? Why don’t the wicked effects of this virus pass? I have no answer, but I do know this:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). His promise of full healing, restoration and redemption isn’t touched by a virus. He can be trusted because his character is true and he remains the same.
Start there. Say yes to Jesus if you haven’t yet. His mission is good, and life with him is what you were made for: freedom for captives, the end of oppression and destruction, and the beginning of redemption and restoration of all things, starting with us.
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).
You who have doubts, I’ve doubted with you. I’ve doubted that depression would end, I’ve doubted that I’d get out of messes that I made, I’ve doubted that life with God was really that good.
You are not alone in this era, but you have a heritage of believers who have walked through the same questions plaguing us now. This isn’t the first time the whole world has felt on edge; people have gone ahead of you fighting to believe. You are not alone. Not in your home, not in your faith, not in your doubt.
I don’t know where you are reading this from, but from where I am writing it, people are coming out from their houses; they’re smiling at one another and seeing each other, actually seeing each other, for the first time. People are coming alive.
You, O Christian, are at home, but Jesus is at home in you. Lean in with the expectation that something is here, and he is good. His people are coming together again because Jesus is coming back, and he’s coming back for a family that is not estranged, but whole.
We are walking into the era of coming-together-again rather than splitting,; an era of glorifying God and putting Jesus on display. We live in victory, now let us walk in it.
So Wake Up O Sleeper
Keep diving into the Scriptures – there was a point in time people couldn’t. Let God’s Word wash over you and instill peace, hope, joy and point you to Jesus from beginning to end.
Encourage your friends, family and leaders. Lay down your opinions, they are not your identity, and even when someone disagrees with you, know that they aren’t rejecting you.
Pray. Really pray. Ask God what he thinks, and listen. Ask him to move in the lives of people around you and watch Him do it. Tell him about your pain, your dreams, your ordinary moments, and invite him into all of it.
Though seemingly separated by locations and different languages, we are being built together in Christ Jesus, “no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household … And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19, 22).
It’s not about getting on the same page when it comes to beliefs, it’s about pursuing Jesus. And as we get closer and closer to him in Spirit and truth, suddenly by grace, we will be together again.
The desire for unity, and not uniformity, is from God.
So here is my encouragement: The church meets together in buildings, yes, but the church is not the meeting itself. The church is God’s people, wherever they’re found, meeting with him, in homes, apartments, hospitals and offices. The church is made up of living stones, being built together in Christ. You are being built even now. Lean in to God’s presence, the Spirit of Jesus. Give him your anxiety, lend him your trust and he will be proven trustworthy.
Pray for unity as the people of Jesus run toward him through crisis, because Christian, a shift is here.
I was born and raised in Colorado and spent my high school years in North Dakota. I came back to Denver for my undergrad education and played four years of soccer, receiving a degree in youth ministry and organizational development before setting out to work for an international relief organization. I love Jesus and I love seeing people come to life when they meet him
I learned about George Fox by listening to Bridgetown church podcasts as I was traveling and feeling more and more passionately about pouring into the next generation. I came to Fox to join the women’s soccer coaching staff (Go Bruins!) in 2018 and now work both in athletics and for the physician assistant graduate program.
My friends call me nomadic because, since 2017, I’ve lived in the Appalachian Mountains, Myanmar, Colorado, Lake Tahoe, now the Willamette Valley, and one day hopefully Barcelona for a time. Most fun-fact: The idea of moving to Oregon was sparked when my worship-leading best bud and I felt like God was leading us out here for a church plant. Things fell together as we said yes, and now we are part of the vibrant Saint’s Hill Church community. More fun facts: I am part of the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Nation, I’ve played soccer internationally with Athletes in Action, I helped launch a coffee shop at Zephyr Point, and I love snowboarding.