“Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him unless he knew where his believers are? – Martin Luther.
Have you ever taken a second to look back at the story of Jesus and really think about what that meant for our lives? Not just pause to reflect but really think about the impact of what Jesus did on the cross so many centuries ago? That action on the cross meant so many things for us: forgiveness, grace, eternity, mercy, love, and so much more. In just one action, we got what we could never deserve: God’s endless grace for the things we’ve done and the sins we still have yet to commit.
Paul tells us that the church of Jesus Christ is God’s chosen instrument to point us to His love and grace. The first two chapters of Ephesians have some amazing things to tell us about the church. In Ephesians 2:19-22, we read, “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit”
The church is far from perfect. We’re probably all seen or experienced shortcomings in one of the churches we attended. The reality is we still sin. There will be no perfect church until Jesus comes back. While that may be a tad gloomy, the Bible’s view of the church is much more encouraging. It may not look like much yet, but the end goal for the church is described in Ephesians 4:13 – “…we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”
The church is not merely an ad hoc gathering of believers praying and sharing Scripture verses. The church is so much more. The church is the body of Christ. The Christian church is not a building, but a body of believers united in Christ. Its role is to worship God, nurture and edify and reach out to a suffering world with the saving message of the gospel as well as the practical compassion and mercy exemplified in Christ.
It is in and through the church that Christ encounters, calls, transforms, equips, and sends his people into the world. God uses the church to introduce salvation to those who don’t know him, and to nurture the faith of believers. The church is God’s instrument for expressing his compassion and concern for the world. Fellowship with Christ and with each other makes believers a single family united in love.
The church is irreplaceable. Lots of other things may look like church, but nothing can replace it.
- What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of church? What were your first/early experiences of attending church? Were those positive or negative experiences in your faith journey and why?