If you were asked to define church, I wonder what you would come up with as an answer? For many people, a church is a building, often with stained glass windows, a steeple and bells. Of course this is true in the same sense that a building with classrooms is called a school. However just as school without children is quiet and lifeless, so a church without people is like a museum or a shrine, it may be atmospheric and spiritual in some other worldly way but it lacks life. Of course simply filling a building with people doesn’t make it a school or a church, however lively they may be. It is only when those people are united with a common purpose that they become a living community that grows and develops organically around their shared values.
Churches have many things in common with schools and other community organisations, but what sets them apart is that the people who belong to the church are united in Christ. Not merely knowing who Christ is, but having an ongoing dynamic experience of Christ in their lives. On Sunday mornings we are looking at the book of Ephesians where Paul shows us how true church consists of people who are gripped by the lavish grace and wisdom of God. We don’t deserve favour like this and are powerless without God taking the initiative on our behalf. Although this grace operates in our lives individually, the outworking of it is that we become a community knit together in love.
At the end of chapter 2 Paul writes: ‘In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.’ Ephesians 2:22 (ESV) An evidence that the Spirit is truly working in the life of a believer is that they will increasingly sense that they belong to a local church. Our commitment and loyalty to Christ is expressed by our commitment and loyalty to each other. Here at Life Church we welcome everyone to our meetings at whatever stage they have reached in their journey with Christ. Once someone has been with us for a while however it is good to demonstrate commitment by becoming a church member. If you would like to find out more about this, then have a word with either Simon or me and we would be happy to explain further.
This blog post featured in the June 2012 edition of Lifelines