The Church . . . what is it and why is it?
If someone might ask a dozen people these questions, there will perhaps be 10 different answers offered. A society of like-minded people? A religious community? A group of folks interested in arcane doctrine, or theological and ethical questions? A political action group that stands against progressive ideas? A social organization for doing ‘random acts of kindness’? An instrument of social justice? A gathering of ‘believers’?
These and plenty of other answers are offered by those who look at the church from the outside, and frankly some of them are pretty accurate. But we might find (maybe to our surprise) that the answers from those inside the church wouldn’t be much different. True, we might view the activities of the church as being distinct and regularly including things such as singing, study and listening to lectures (sermons), but we don’t necessarily THINK of the church as actually being a different thing in the Earth. We discover that our perceptions of the church as well as our thoughts about it are heavily shaped by the world’s perspective and communication.
There are lots of things to be drawn from the Bible that could be said about the Church but, for the moment, two bear mention here. Foremost is that the Church is not her ministries, not the building, not the place where we gather for worship, nor the distinct body of teaching to which we hold. Rather, the Church is people; the lost and lonely, the oppressed and weary, the down-trodden and outcasts, the sin-sick and broken, all of them undesirable and undeserving, whom the eternal living God is glad to adopt as his own for the purpose of bestowing upon them the blessing of a life that has its origins in Him. Against our expectations (and perhaps our preferences) God picked the unwise, the weak and the lowlifes to display His grace and glory (1 Cor 1:26-29) and we gather because we partake of a common spiritual life. Secondly, then, the Church is where God dwells (Lev 26:11-12; Ezek 37:27; Eph 2:19, 22), where He places His majestic Name. He makes this claim about no other group of people in the earth.
Thus the Church is a living, breathing, walking, talking, miracle in the earth; weak unwise sick broken people among whom God chooses to live. There is much that we can say about the Church, but this is what we must believe about her. Here is found one reason we must hold her dear in our heart.
Taking Every Thought Captive to Christ,