Church. According to the Bible, the church is the body of Jesus, the manifestation of Jesus’ character and will here on earth. The church is the family of God. 1 John 4-5 calls us to be brothers and sisters because we have been adopted by God as his children. Ephesians 2 tells us that we, collectively, are the temple of the Holy Spirit. That the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We are also called the bride of Christ in Ephesians 5, one that he desires to spend eternity with. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the church is called the people of God. We are his people, chosen Colossians 3 tells us, called together because of his love.
There are wonderful blessings waiting for us as we live out these descriptions of who God sees his church to be. Unity in purpose, caring support, a place of encouragement and loving correction, a whole group of someones who can pray with us, cry with us, laugh with us and walk through life and faith with us.
A bride, a temple, a body, a family and a holy priesthood. Those are five high, honourable and lofty descriptions of the church. They are descriptive of God’s feelings for us, of his commitment to us, of just how much he values the people who are the church and of what he expects of us. Why then do we do it so badly sometimes? These descriptions should inspire us. They should motivate us to be more than we would normally be. Do we act as a family? Do we live out the presence of the Spirit in our midst? Do we bear ourselves as a bride on her wedding day? Do we manifest the person of Jesus in our attitudes and actions? Do we really believed God called us to be his holy people? Don’t get me wrong, we do church right sometimes. I just wonder why the sometimes are further apart than they should be.
Here’s part of the problem: me. I’m in the church. And I say things wrong, I pout when I don’t get my own way, I get angry and frustrated. I get hurt and then hold a grudge. I forget to forgive. I talk more than I listen. I like to be right and hate to be wrong. I could continue, but we’d be here a while. And I’m being honest, I do all of those things. I think you get my point. We do it so badly sometimes because I do it badly sometimes.
And here’s the encouraging part: the solution is me. Well, not just me. All of us “mes” out there. Just as I am the source of the problem, I know I can also be part of the solution. When I sacrifice my pride, offer my way on the alter and let God direct my attitude, I can be part of the solution. But it means learning to be the man (or woman if your anatomy differs from mine), that God needs me to be. Because the church is not a building, it is not an organization or a tax-exempt charity, it is not even an employer. The church is people. People gathered together to share in worship, engage in mission and equip the saints for both. I have a part to play in that, so do you.
I will mess it up and so will you. But I can also get it right and so can you. Galatians 5 tells us that the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives is: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” These are the things the Holy Spirit wants to cultivate in all of us, things that show God living in and transforming us. The funny thing is, to do church right, all of those things have to be present. It’s almost as if God planned it that way…go figure.
Here is the church, here is the steeple…open the doors and there’s all the people. Believe it or not, that’s exactly the way God wants it to be.
Over the next weeks, we’re going to spend some time exploring how we can do church right. Not that we’ll be perfect at it, but God has given us his instruction manual so that we can get it as right as we possibly can. Join us May 12 – June 30 as we take a detailed look through Colossians 3:12-17 and unpack what that scripture has to say about the church, why it exists, what God’s picture of it is and how we can learn to live “As God’s Chosen People.”