Your View of the Church
What comes to mind when you think of the church? Negative or positive thoughts? Throughout time, the church has done some incredible things such as funding hospitals and caring for widows, orphans, and the homeless. Tragically, the church has also committed atrocities.
For some of you, the church has been a place of safety, encouragement, and life. For others, either you or someone you know has been hurt by the church.
The church is made up of sinful people who are battered themselves and prone to hurting others. In spite of this, God chose the church to fulfill His will. Paul wrote, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
The Church Defined
The physical building we picture when we hear the word church, is not the church. The church is made up of all true believers in Christ throughout all of time, spanning centuries and continents, also known as the body of Christ.
Christ is building His church. He told Peter, “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). God grew the church throughout the New Testament: “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
The church is both visible and invisible. We see the church in the believers who surround us—those who profess faith in Christ and show evidence of His Word in their lives. But we cannot see the believers of the past or future or know the true condition of the peoples’ hearts. Scripture assures us, “The Lord knows those who are his” (2 Timothy 2:19).
Because the church is the sum of all true believers, the church is both local and universal. Many of the New Testament letters were written to believers in a specific city. At the same time, other passages refer to the church as a whole. Every believer in every country today is your brother or sister in Christ in the church.
The Purposes of the Church
God gives the Church a purpose and role to fulfill. Paul tells us to worship God, “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).
Also, we must equip other believers to develop a mature faith. “Him we pro-claim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28).
Christ commanded his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). We evangelize the lost and imitate Christ by loving others, even our enemies. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)