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Thoughts on Church, part 2

January 31, 2008

Before I post my response on what I believe is the purpose of Church, I have a few comments that may help to shed some light on my answer.

First, as my friend Kevin mentioned in the previous post, church is the corporate gathering of local believers. This is key. In America, individualism reigns supreme. So it is the case with Christianity as well. We are taught to believe that salvation is primarily about a personal relationship with Christ. We are on a “pilgrim’s progress” – thousands of solitary journeys on the road to redemption. This is why there are so many books out there targeting the “purpose driven life” or the “wild at heart” or “your best life now.” This is why many contemporary praise songs focus on the inward feeling leading to outward reactions (I will sing to and worship, the King who is worthy, etc.). This is why many churches have invitations following their sermons.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s true that part of salvation is a personal relationship with Christ – but is this the primary relationship? No, it’s not. In fact, this is one of the reasons why we gather as a body of believers every Sunday. This is where salvation is found – in the church. Just as God used Israel to bring about the salvation of the nations, God has established the church to bring about salvation to the world. Christ does not work separately from His bride. This is why your church (should) rightfully discipline those members who refuse to attend on a regular basis (barring health and other legitimate excuses, of course). It’s for their own good. There’s no such thing as a solitary Christian. More on this, though, in a later post.

Second, just how does Christ empower us? Where do we draw our strength from? For that matter, what is grace? What exactly is the relationship between Christ and His bride?

Here’s an analogy: Denise and I love each other. But what is love? Is it some mystical power that connects us to each other. Is it some emotionless commitment that binds us together through thick and thin? Of course not. Love displays itself in many symbolic ways – a hand held, a kiss, a first date, a beautiful wedding ceremony. An exchange of rings, an exchange of looks, three beautiful girls. These are all symbols of our love for each other, but they’re not empty. In fact, these are some of the things that make us more in love with each other. It’s a symbolic relationship with phyical realities. So how does this translate into our relationship with Christ? Well, what are the symbols of the church? Prayer, the Word, baptism, bread and wine, fellowship, singing, etc… are these empty? Are these just “personal” reactions to the truths we find in the Bible (I believe John 3:16, therefore I worship God, etc.)? As Christians, what does Christ do for us and what do we do for Christ that makes our relationship a reality?

Oh, and I still am curious about the questions in the previous post as well!

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 31, 2008 2:58 pm

    I shared last night at our c-group, where we talked about a biblical understanding of the gospel (9 marks), that we should share the gospel in communal terms– letting people know that they’re becoming a part of a people, and not just getting hitched to Jesus.

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