For many the church is a quaint place where religious people meet. As romantic of a picture as that might be, the church embodies so much more.
The Apostle Paul speaks of three basic goals for the growth of the church. The first is “unity in the faith (Ephesians 4:13).” Paul is not talking about the trust that the people in the church place in Jesus Christ. He uses the definite article to refer to “the” faith, which consists of the web of beliefs that members of the church are to have regarding Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, the world, humanity, and the principles and values that are to form our societal and family lives. In this age of fake news and misrepresentations of reality, Jesus enters into the church shining the light of his truth and dispelling the darkness of falsehood. The church shall reach this goal when every member of the church comes to complete understanding of the truth.
The second goal of the growth of the church is “unity […] in the knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:13).” Knowledge here does not refer merely to head knowledge but intimate knowledge. When my wife and I were dating we exchanged no end of text messages and emails. I reread so many of these, not because I did not understand the information but because I wanted to know her more. The church reaches toward that day when every member shall have full intimate knowledge of Jesus.
The third goal is maturity, “attaining to the full measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).” Previously, Paul had referred to the church using the analogy of a body (Ephesians 4:12). Christ is the head of his body, the church. The body is not the head, nor is the head the body. The members of the body are growing so that they perfectly function with the head. As babies grow into toddlers, often times their head outgrows their body. This is the current state of the church. Christ’s body has not yet grown into her head. The day shall come when every member of Christ’s body shall reach full maturity with the head. The body shall fully become Christ-like, embodying Christ’s sacrificial love, justice, compassion, patience, peace, and joy.
The church is much more than pew warmers. We are dynamically growing into the very people of God. Though imperfect now, one day the church shall perfectly represent Christ to all creation.