Lisa was looking for a church. She wanted to find a church where her children could learn the things she learned as a child, where she could participate in the church’s music, and where sermons were interesting and relevant to her life. The First Church of Anywhere fit the bill. But, when the church laid off the youth pastor for budgetary issues, when the music program became flat, and when sermons seemed less interesting, she left the First Church of Anywhere and ran to the First Church of Anywhere Else. For Lisa, church was about what she and her family could get out of it.
What is this entity that we call church? What does it mean to be part of a church? The Apostle Paul was writing a letter to several relatively new churches that he had planted in the city of Ephesus. He used several images to explain what Christ’s Church is all about.
Paul told the Ephesian Christians that they were fellow citizens with God’s people (Ephesians 3:19). They used to be far away from God, but God drew them near. He had given them all the privileges of citizenship, such as adoption as God’s children, forgiveness of sins, and a future inheritance.
Paul also compared the church to a family (3:19). Beyond our biological families, God has knit together the Church with brothers from different mothers and daughters from different dads. Sundays are the big family gatherings. Lives are shared, people learn together, and God the Father in heaven is worshiped.
The Church is like a building (3:20-21). The apostles and prophets have laid the foundation for this building. God revealed to them the mystery of this new entity and first appointed them to proclaim what would later be preserved and canonized in the Bible (3:5). Though the Church is built on the apostolic witness, Jesus Christ alone is the cornerstone.
In ancient construction, the cornerstone was the first stone laid. It determined where every other stone was placed. To remove the cornerstone would be to destroy the whole building. Even the foundation depended upon it. The Church is created and sustained by Christ alone.
Yet this building is more than a mere building; it is a temple – not made of posts and beams but of people. The Church is the place where God’s holy presence dwells on earth. (3:21-22)
The Church is not a purveyor of spiritual commodities, the Church is the place where God dwells in his people. Are you part of a church? If not, consider joining one. You’ll be glad you did.
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