We — are — the — Church. It’s pretty simple, but challenging to actually live out. We know ‘believers’ make up the Church and we know the ‘building’ is just a building. In practice, however, there seems to be a disconnect between what we know and how we act. We say ‘the Church’ loves God, and in the same breath agree that we ‘go to church each Sunday.’ How can the people (the Church) go to themselves? We use the same word to refer to different things. Are we missing something? Does this impact the way we view the Church?
At the end of the day, there are three basic things we need to remember:
1. We are the CHURCH.
Those who accept Christ as their Saviour and allow Him to be their Lord, make up the Church. Whether that refers to the local Church (Romans 16:5) or the universal Church (Ephesians 5:25), the Church is still made up of believers.
When we say ‘church’ we can’t refer to a building, but to the actual people. The Church is a family (1 Timothy 5:1-2), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27), and the temple of God (1 Peter 2:5). We’re talking about a community of believers who gather to grow, worship, love and serve.
The New Testament Greek word for ‘church’ is ekklesia, which means ‘assembly’ or ‘congregation.’ It doesn’t mean ‘church building’ or ‘physical tabernacle.’
As a result, we can’t be self-centered, individualistic Christians demanding a certain style of ministry.
We are God’s Church longing to live our purpose on earth.
That’s the most important thing — our purpose. Nothing can get in the way of the purpose of the Church. Not even tradition. If tradition gets in the way of our purpose, then we need to stop our tradition.
If we allow tradition, or anything else, to derail the purpose of the Church, we’ll miss what it means to be a part of God’s Kingdom!
2. We grow in COMMUNITY.
A ‘community’ can be defined as ‘a group of any size who share a common cultural and historical heritage…often according to a common rule.’
Church community may look a little different. The biggest difference: we are held together by one — that is Christ.
We may be completely different — have different preferences and enjoy different traditions, but when we are ‘patient, bearing with one another in love,’ we can all grow together in community (Ephesians 4:2).
In fact, it’s how Paul describes maturity in Christ. We act in ‘works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith…and become mature’ (Ephesians 4:12-13).
That means our contribution to the community is where it all begins. We can’t afford to wait until someone else makes us feel ‘welcome’ or our ‘preferences’ are met. We become a part of the Church Community when we engage in ‘works of service,’ not when others engage us.
So, ‘church community’ (ekklesia) can be defined as ‘a group of any size who share life in Christ and mature together in the faith…according to Scripture.’
3. We’re COMMISSIONED to love and serve.
Jesus was pretty clear about both his mission and our mission. At the beginning of Luke’s gospel, he quoted Isaiah as a commissioning statement:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV)
Jesus’ ministry followed this mandate time and time again. In fact, it was the ‘sign’ for John the Baptist to recognize Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 11:5).
But Jesus’ example isn’t where the story ends. Jesus commissioned all of his followers (including the believers of today):
“So go and make followers (or disciples) of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you, and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NCV)
Jesus promised that he will empower us as we carry out the mission of going and making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them.
Just as Jesus led by example in love and grace, we too are called to live out our mission in love and grace.
As the Church acts in community with one another, we are commissioned to make disciples. That process involves multiplying ourselves by teaching, loving and serving in the name of Jesus.
Being a part of the Church Community means engaging in our missional purpose. Failing to engage ourselves in our missional purpose only proves how immature we are in the faith.
While our North American culture is highly self-centered and individualistic, we can’t afford for the Church to be described that way. The Church is always described as one unified body in community. Yes, we make a personal decision to follow Christ, but that personal decision includes joining the fellowship of other believers.
If we want to embrace Christianity to the full, we must be the CHURCH, grow in COMMUNITY, and embrace the MISSION of loving and serving as we all become mature disciples of Jesus.
How do you understand Christianity? How do you view the Church?
If you liked this post, please take a moment to share on your social networks so others have a chance to read it as well!