Three Important Truths To Know About The Church
Have you noticed that the idea of Church is rapidly changing?
Lots of denominations, especially mainline Churches, talk about an increasing decline in membership and worship attendance.
In fact, according to Pew Research Center, the number of people choosing not to affiliate with any Church is growing.
The problem, as you may think, doesn’t have to do with the people who leave the Church. I think the problem has to do with you and me who stay in the Church.
It has to do with how we understand Church, which we do, unfortunately, through the lenses of our own denominations.
In the following lines, I propose a different, not new, but a more Biblical way to look at us, the Church.
The Church is God’s Work
First, you and I should know that the Church is not a human creation.
The concept of Church is God’s idea, not human!
The word, which translates into Church in English, is first found in Matthew 16: 13 – 20. It is the only place in the four gospels you come across it.
Remember that everything else in the New Testament came after God had already established God’s Church here on earth.
It wasn’t as structured as it would become later and especially with Constantine becoming the Roman Emperor.
In the story, based on Matthew 16, Jesus says to Peter:
I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” CEV.
Clearly, the idea of Church isn’t a human concept. Jesus Christ is the first one to have ever used it according to Matthew.
Second, God’s Church came to be as a result of the pouring of the Holy Spirit on Peter and the other disciples.God's Church didn't come into being only as a result of people getting together with a plan on their own.Click To Tweet
It doesn’t matter how smart or genius we may think we are, God’s Church doesn’t result from what we plan.
The book of Acts tells us how God’s Church came to be. Read chapters one and two to learn about the beginning of God’s Church.
Between the time Jesus Christ promised to build God’s Church (see Matthew 16) and Acts 2 (day of Pentecost), the disciples never chose to draw a plan to fulfill God’s plan to start God’s Church.
Do you know what they did? They waited. And, how did they wait? Acts 1 says that they waited in prayer.
They waited because that’s exactly what Jesus wanted them to do.
Between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, it’s believed this time lasted like 50 days. The point here is that the disciples, according to Acts 1: 12-14, devoted themselves to prayer.
That’s how they waited for God’s promise. Its fulfillment (Acts 2) is what gave birth to God’s Church.
Let me clarify that what I’m talking about here isn’t your denomination. It’s about God’s Church, a part of which your denomination is.
Denominations come and go. God’s Church will always stand until when Jesus Christ comes back again for the final restoration of the cosmos.
Do you know why?Denominations represent various ways we express what we think God's Church should be. Click To Tweet
Those expressions represent a way a group of people wants to differ from another one. In one denomination, you see various branches claiming the same heritage. An example of that could be the Methodists. In this denomination, you have United Methodists, Free Methodists, African American Methodists, British Methodists, and more.
Think of the Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc.!
Don’t we all want to be different from the Church down the street?
Please, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that we should all believe the same. No matter what denomination you belong to, you’ve got to make sure you are in God’s Church.
God’s Church is a Body
God’s Church isn’t a denomination. It’s the Body of Christ with Jesus the Head. He is the head of the body, the church,
He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the one who is firstborn from among the dead so that he might occupy the first place in everything.. Colossians 1: 18. CEV.
If God’s Church is the Body of Christ, then that truth implies two things:
First, God’s Church has members.
Jesus is the head of the Church, and you and I are members of the body of Christ.So, God's Church is the body of Christ with Jesus the head and us, believers, as members. Click To Tweet
Based on Corinthians 12, this truth means that:
- We are each unique with God-given potential and gifts.
- We become the best version of ourselves only when we’re members of the body.
- We each can’t be without each other.
Second, God’s Church evolves and adapts.
The human body tells us of how God’s Church ought to be.
Just as the head, in the human body, plays a very important role in almost everything, so does Jesus as the head of God’s Church.
According to science, the human body, and because of the brain, is the control system for all the systems (circulatory, digestive, etc.) as well as the other vital organs, which dictate how all these work.
In other words, the brain, which is found in the head, is what explains our thoughts, feelings, memory, and perception of life in us and around us.
So, when you think of Jesus as the head of the Church, you simply believe that Jesus is the One shaping our thoughts, feelings, and perception of the world in and around us.
God’s Church, having Jesus as the Head, implies that we function and live depending on the signal we receive from Him. He dictates who we are and become. Nothing more or less.
It’s also believed that the brain can help us adapt to a variety of situations in which we may find ourselves. They refer to it as neuroplasticity.
What that means is the ability for the brain to change. The impact of neuroplasticity on the rest of the body can be for the better or the worse.
This ability to change starts with the head and in the brain.
But, in the case of God’s Church, with Jesus as the Head, change is something Jesus, as the Head, can help us with as His body.
The key to any adjustment or change to take place is for the rest of the body to align itself according to the signal that comes from the Head (brain).
God’s Church Runs with God’s Mission
With Jesus, being the control center for who we are it’s clear then that we, as the body, don’t just do what we want. We do according to the signals we receive from the brain (the head of the body), Jesus Christ.
Of course, with the Church, being born out of the Holy Spirit, God sends us signals (like in the human body) through God’s Spirit.
Those signals give us the following:
- A mission – The “Why” and “What.”
- A strategy (or a map) – The “How.”
- The right provision (gifts of the Holy Spirit, people, skills, relationships, money, etc.) – The Tools.
You know you can gather a few people and still call yourselves a Church. But, if the head of your community of believers isn’t Jesus Christ, even when you claim Him to be so, you won’t receive any signal from Him.
We can’t be God’s Church without acknowledging Jesus Christ as the Head of us all together. And, we can’t run with God’s mission if we didn’t first receive clear signals from the Head, Jesus Christ.
Here are questions to ponder:
- If you already have a mission, did you come up with it as a result of clear signals you’ve received from God? Would you say that what you have, as a mission statement, is something God clearly showed you?
- Did you spend time praying and listening to God with the goal of hearing God’s voice? Or did you just get together, and after answering a few questions over a meal or something like that, you then established a mission for yourselves or Church?