What is the Church? – Part 3

Our titled question stirs something in me. If we could somehow begin to grasp the potential…heaven’s intent for the Church…

A quick glimpse of the analogies used in the Bible to describe the Church reveals amazing insights into that potential. Jesus, himself, started the conversation by insisting that the “gates of hell” would be unable to stop the march of His Church. Surely two millennia of spiritual warfare, persecution, and political aggression have tried, and yet the Church continues its spread of the Gospel’s love. Other “religions” have attempted their age-old strategy, spreading apparent power through violence. But Jesus’ people have been at their best when their weapons remained sheathed and their hearts are drawn.

The Apostle Paul showed us a few metaphors to describe the church’s potential. In 1 Corinthians (3:16-17) we are the temple of God–the place by which He dwells among His creation. Some of us might too quickly connect the idea to a church building, but those days are long past. Instead, we–you know, the “two or three gathered,” are that dwelling place. Wherever God’s people go, He is in the house! And frankly, God can’t be in the room without messing up the furniture a little bit.

In Ephesians (2:19), we are the household of God and (2:22-23), the body of Christ. Think of the implications here. We are God’s house–not the chapel on the corner. We are the body, attached to the Head, His working hands and feet, connected and led fully by His missional thoughts. He isn’t just the Head in that He is in charge. The analogy is a body, fully attached to Him!

Peter said we are the “people of God” (1 Peter 2:10). That means He can be expected to act on our behalf. As He desired with Israel, He wants to be known as our God. He wants to demonstrate what it means to connect with Him by revealing His love and power through us. Surely “people of God” shows us His supernatural intent. Remember some of the things He did for His people Israel? We can make a strong case that He was clearly on their side, in spite of their frequent failures. When they cried out, He showed up in big ways. Surely we His people can expect Him to show up in our worlds as well.

Finally, John sums us up as the bride of Christ–forever joined to Him. He has chosen us with a covenantal love. He has even provided the means that we might be spotless for Him. And the day is soon coming when that marriage will be celebrated and the happily ever after will ensue.

So what is the Church? You may occasionally feel the impotence of a small collection of humanity gathering in a less than impressive way, but hold on. You see, the Church is so much more than it may at times appear. Sure, we fail to live up to our potential at times and even allow what is ungodly to shape our actions, but we are made to be so much more. And when we are…

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