The Church Wins!

No, we’re not in a contest, so this title might be a little misleading, but it dawned on me today as I was thinking about a verse in Philippians that the Church, in fact, isn’t in danger.

That statement might seem surprising in light of what’s happening in the world today:

  • Those who profess emerging Christianity indict the Church and happily leave to engage in conversations and centering prayer.
  • Famous individuals like Ann Rice boldly and publicly declare they are finished with Christianity though they still follow Christ.
  • False teachers tell adherents how they can use Christianity to accomplish the very things God said to guard against (selfishness, greed, pride).
  • Christian leaders (Catholics and Protestants) have been exposed as hypocrites for engaging in immoral behavior contrary to what they say they believe.
  • Christians claiming to contend for the faith display hateful behavior and vile speech in direct contradict to Christ’s expressed teachings.

Yet here I am saying the Church wins. These are the verses that spurred this realization. Paul is addressing the Church in Philippi:

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.
– Phil 1:27-28 (emphasis mine)

Why, I wondered, would an absence of alarm concerning opponents be a sign of destruction for said opponents? And for that matter, why would it be a sign of salvation for the Church?

I don’t pretend to understand all that Paul meant here, but thinking about the Church as a building in progress with Christ as the cornerstone, it dawned on me (or re-dawned on me) that the Church cannot fail.

After all, Christ is the head of the Church. We are His bride. We are branches attached to Him as the Vine. We sons (and daughters) comprise His family. We appendages are part of His body. We are stones that fit with the Cornerstone.

So if we, the Church stand firm in one spirit, and with one mind strive together for the faith of the gospel, we will be declaring for all to see that the building is being built and that it will be completed.

My next thought is this: can someone taking shots at the Church be standing firm in one spirit?

I suspect some believe that taking shots is a form of striving for the faith of the gospel, but what about the “together” part?

There’s another factor that needs to be considered. Who exactly is “the Church”? Some people claim to be “Christ followers” even as they divorce themselves from “organized religion” (a la Ann Rice, though she certainly wasn’t the first to move in this direction).

There is nothing sacred about “organized religion,” to be sure. After all, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Mormonism, Scientology are organized religions. In addition, I don’t think those first gatherings of believers in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Lord—the ones who responded to Peter’s preaching—were all that organized.

However, “organization” developed, some as a result of the instruction of the inspired Scriptures and some through tradition that changed over time. Before the last inspired epistle had been penned, tradition and inspired instruction had already begun to clash. This is why Paul said not to listen to anyone preaching a different gospel.

The gospel, of course, is the good news that Christ died to pay the penalty for sin and that those who believe in Him will have eternal life.

So aren’t those who stand firm in one spirit on this core principle and who strive with one mind for the faith of this core principle—aren’t those stones in the temple that God is building? The indestructible temple that will one day be complete no matter how many people in whatever ways try to tear it down today?

The Church wins for one reason and one reason alone: Christ our Cornerstone is already the Victor.

Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 9:25 am  Comments (2)  
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