I spoke a few days ago to a friend and Church leader who had recently attend a meeting convened in his city to discuss how the various churches in the area could work together more effectively. In discussion the question arose as the meaning of “Church”. My friend was appalled at the answers given by some “Evangelical” leaders. Their definition was so wide as to be almost meaningless. He left the meeting seriously concerned and troubled.
Of course the definition of “Church” impacts immensely on the question of the “Unity” we discussed in our last post. In truth there are some Christian leaders who appear to find it most difficult to attribute the biblical meaning of “Church” to the term – simply because , I suspect, to admit such would cause them serious problems within their grouping. Is it possible we sacrifice truth for expediency on such occasions? And if we do at what cost?
The apostle Paul – speaking to the fledgling church of the role of their leaders said –
“Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:12-14 (NLT)
There is no dubiety as to what is being spoken of here. The “Church” is the “Body of Christ”. Speaking to the Church at Corinth regarding the “Body of Christ” and our participation in it the Apostle Paul says –
“But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit”.
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NLT)
It seems quite apparent therefore, taking these two scriptures alone, that true “Unity” comes as a result of “Union” with the “Spirit” “and, as Paul writes, “Our faith and knowledge of God’s Son”. If this becomes difficult and confusing I suspect it is only because we make it so for our own purposes. The true Church therefor is made up of people who by faith in and union with Jesus Christ, have become recipients of the Holy Spirit – and who [as Paul outlines in his argument following the above] live out and share their lives in The Love of The Father.
But I think there is more here – a much deeper truth, a mystical truth that will require a separate post to explore in a little more depth.