Series: The Big Questions
The church is fundamentally a collection of believers who follow Jesus. Early believers were Jews who attended gatherings where Jesus spoke. Later believers became followers of Jesus from all nations who gathered in people’s homes. They were labeled Christians because they followed Christ. Jesus used the Greek word εκκλησιά for his church, which means assembly. Wherever two or more are gathered together Jesus is with them.
The body of Christ
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (NASB)
It’s plain from other places in the Bible that God doesn’t need a house, a temple, or any other sacred place for people to worship. But other than through prayer, how is God’s presence commonly known? Like the wind we can’t see it so it’s known through action.
What do we claim that God does in the world?
Jesus said to his believers, ““You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5: 14-16 (NASB)
The assembly of believers represents the body of Jesus on earth, not as a lighted monument but as people of action who do good works.
The church isn’t a building, nor are God and Jesus represented by a building.* The assembly of people is the church. The church is represented by the people and their actions.
Next in this series on What Is the Church: Those who show love, those who live by the promise of Jesus, and the message and promise of Jesus: Goodwill toward all people, forgiveness for the asking, the Kingdom of God, the Good News.
* The physical buildings are a symbol of the people who are the church. Symbols often participate in what they represent according to Theologian Paul Tillich. I find this to be very true.
Article in this series on what is the church, the big questions
What is the Church, Part 1– the people, body of Christ
What Is the Church, Part 2 – The message and promise of Jesus
What Is the Church, Part 3 – The Good News and the Kingdom of God
What Is the Church, Part 4 – People who love as God loves
The standard of belief and conduct for Christianity is love. God is love. We’re asked to be like God.
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