- Church is Jesus’ idea. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “I will build my Church.” (He says He will build it on Peter, the Rock, which leads to a bunch of other questions Protestants and Catholics disagree about…questions for another time and place). If Jesus is the builder of the Church, then we ought to care about His blueprints.
- Church is people (not a building). The Greek word for church, ekklesia, basically means an assembly of people (if you’ve heard “called out people of God,” that’s close enough, but fussy Greek professors would have objections…). You never really “go to church.” You might go to be with your church. Your church might have a really predictable meeting place with doors and a steeple. But the church is people. It is God’s people.
- Church is simple (kind of). The earliest church did four things: studied the teaching of the Apostles, fellowshipped together, broke bread together (nutritionally and ritually), and prayed together (Acts 2:42, read all the way to 47, it’s good stuff). They didn’t have an awesome rock band, they didn’t have power points, they didn’t have cool lighting. They shared life together, learning about God, eating, and praying.
- Church has places. In the Bible, many of the times churches are mentioned, they have a city associated with them. There’s the Church in Jerusalem, the Church in Ephesus, the Church in Berea, the Church Antioch, the Church in (tum, du du, tum) Rome. If you didn’t bump into somebody at Church this Sunday…You weren’t with the church. I don’t care if you heard a great sermon, or sang a great song. The church is people, and it has places, it gathers.
- The Church is the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18). Therefore, the Church has armpits. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 talk about the Church as a human body, with many parts. (1 Cor 12:14-17) 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? If your church doesn’t have stinky people, or people that are mean, or people that sing bad, or people that annoy the hell (yes, if you can’t live with them on earth, and they’re going to heaven, you only have one alternative) out of you, you need to find a worse church. A church made up of only people with great minds and voices is not going anywhere (no legs).
- The Church is the Bride of Christ. In Ephesians 5:25, husbands are told to love their wives the way Christ loves the Church. The consuming obsession a good husband has for his adored wife is the same passion that Christ has for the Church. Frankly I don’t care what you think of me, you diss my bride, you face my wrath. Christ feels the same way about his Church. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul views himself as the chaperone of the church in Corinth, whose purity he was to protect for the honor of Christ. We ought to share the same passion for the purity of the Church.
“Praise the Lord!
For the Lord our God,the Almighty, reigns.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
and his bride has prepared herself.
8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”
For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. (Revelation 19:6-9)
- The Church kicks people out! What? That’s mean. In Matthew 18:17, the all loving, ever forgiving, most merciful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ warned His disciples that if a brother or sister would not repent of sin when confronted by the Church, they should be regarded as “heathen”. In 1 Corinthians 5:5, Paul said the Church needed to cast out a man proud of his sexual sin. Why? “That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” What was the big deal? “A little leaven (yeast) leavens (raises) the whole loaf (of bread)” (verse 7). Once a little bit of sin is excused, the whole church is infected. Better not even to eat with such a person. And not just the sexually immoral. Stay away from “Christians” who are greedy, idol worshippers, swindlers, revilers, or drunkards (verse 11). [Just don’t forget get that you were that too. No boasting allowed.]
- The Church is Christ’s Body.I know I already said that. But I wanted to remind you that Christ gave two essential and awesome pictures to teach us about what that means: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In Baptism, we are united to Christ’s body (Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 3:27, Colossians 2:12). That is how we are visibly added to the Church (Acts 2:38, Acts 2:41). You wouldn’t sign a contract with the Detroit Red Wings and not wear the jersey, would you? (As a “Baptist,” I have to add that putting on the jersey doesn’t mean you’re on the team).
You are what you eat. Christ said to enter the Kingdom we must eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53). When we take communion, not only do we eat His Body, we are His Body (1 Corinthians 10:16). And lest you think I’m getting off topic here, Paul instructs us that the Lord’s Supper is for “when you [in this case, the Corinthian church] meet together (1 Corinthians 11:20),” and that “when you gather for the Lord’s Supper, wait for each other (1 Corinthians 11:33).”
- You need the Church needs you. Am I back on this “body” thing again? Yes! Romans 12:5 says, “We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” 1 Corinthians 12:12 says, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” Later, in verse 27 Paul says, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.”
- Christ died for the Church. Back to Ephesians 5. 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.