What Is the Church?


Included in the title the last two posts is “the Church Universal.” I intended to distinguish the Body of Christ from local branches and specifically from the institutions associating themselves with Christ here in North America. After all, one of the largest cults includes Jesus’ name in their official title.

Jesus Himself warned that at the judgment there will be people saying, Lord, Lord, we did this and that in Your name. His response will be, I never knew you.

We who are in the Body of Christ have a certain responsibility to recognize others in the Body of Christ. But I don’t see that God gave us the job to weed out those who are false. They will weed themselves out.

I think of the parable of the ten bridal attendants who waited late into the night for the wedding party. The foolish five did not prepare and ran out of oil for their lamps. The wise five didn’t try to rescue them, nor did they take it upon themselves to disqualify them from attending the wedding. The foolish five did that themselves because they were scrambling to prepare when they should have been marching into the banquet hall.

Here’s what God says in Revelations that pertains to this topic:

“…the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
– emphasis mine

Righteous acts? Doesn’t that sound like a works theology?

Here’s another reason, I believe, the true Church has become hard to identify here in North America. We have distanced ourselves from “the social gospel” to the point that we have nearly forgotten what it means to love our neighbor. Add to that the prosperity we enjoy and our ignorance of the rest of the world, and it hardly seems necessary that the church should be an agent of righteous acts, like feeding the hungry or clothing the poor.

There are other cultural reasons too, associated with pulling oneself up by his own bootstraps and such. But none of it justifies crossing the road to avoid looking at the poor mugging victim lying on the other side.

So the Church is …? Those who believe Jesus is Who He said He is—the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the Light of the world, Living Water, the I AM. Something else, too. This belief will show itself in righteous acts, because when we become part of the vine, surely fruit will follow.

Published in: on July 31, 2008 at 9:46 am  Comments (2)  
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