Had to pass along this quotation to you from a recent Russ Moore piece entitled, “Jesus Didn’t Die for a Campus Ministry: The Spiritual Danger of Unchurched Spirituality“. Here’s a theologically rich and personally challenging quotation on the spiritual nature of the local church:
“In the Bible, a local church–with all its ridiculous flaws–is an unveiling of the mystery of the universe (Eph 3:6). The church is in a one-flesh union with Jesus so that, as in a marriage, everything that belongs to Him belongs to her (Eph 5:22-33). A congregation, in covenant with one another as an assembly of Christ’s people, is a colony of the coming global reign of Christ (Eph 1:22-23), a preview of what the Kingdom of Jesus will look like in the end (1 Cor 6:1-8). Where there is a covenant among believers, a disciplined community of faith, the spirit of Jesus is present among them, just as God was present among the people of Israel in the temple of old (Matt 18:15-20). When the church judges a repentant sinner to be a genuine believer, the congregation is speaking with the authority of Jesus when they plunge him beneath the waters (Matt 28:18-19). When the church judges an unrepentant sinner to be persistent in his rebellion, it is with the authority of Jesus that the congregation pronounces him to be a stranger to the people of God (1 Cor 5: 4-5; Matt 18:15-20). When we gather for worship as a congregation in covenant with one another, we are not simply fueling our individual quiet times with praise choruses. We are instead actually ascending to the heavenly places together, standing before Christ and all of his angels on Mount Zion (Heb 12:18-29).”
Moore’s piece challenged this sinful attitude of my own heart and led me, beyond its rebuke, to a renewed understanding of the importance and significance of the local church and its activity. Behind all that we do–the biggest and smallest acts of the Christian life and corporate worship–is a great story, a “theo-drama” as systematician Kevin Vanhoozer evocatively terms it. Most of us do not worship in churches that are able to give us that grand sense as we gather each week. It is up to us, then, to let the Bible’s great vision of life and church shape our thinking on these matters. We may not worship in a perceivable cloud of glory each week, but we are participating in a cosmic enterprise of Christocentric magnification all the same.