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Thinking about the glorious church

God calls people through Christ and when they respond by faith through the birth of water and Spirit they become part of the church (ekklesia/called out)—nothing more and nothing less. Church is a relational term that speaks to our connection with God and each other. Everyone in the church shares the same status (forgiven), is indwelt by same Spirit, and serves the same Lord. There is a place for everyone in this community regardless of race, gender, age, nationality, or background (Galatians 3:26-28).

The church is glorious. And we want to honor that by refusing to treat it like a brand name or act as if we have exclusive ownership of it. We don’t, it doesn’t belong to us it belongs to God. And in recognizing His ownership, we recognize while there are some aspects to the church that give it recognition and identity, there is also mystery connected to it so that like Elijah, we can be prone to underestimate it because we don’t have complete knowledge like God does. So we need to avoid over-simplifications and humbly recognize our limitations.

It’s sad today that when many people hear the word “church” today, the last thing they think of is Jesus. We have to accept some of the blame for that by the way we’ve used the word and our witness to the world (John 17:20-21). We have to help them see that at the center of the glorious church is Jesus, not us and that it is not about branding, but brotherhood. This is not as easy as we might think. Slipping into the brand name mode is the path of least resistance, while simply being a community of Christ requires some diligence.

Although I think it’s a relatively minor point in the big scheme of things, I’ll share something that I think illustrates how easy it is to be a brand rather than part of a brotherhood. Look in the newspapers and phone books and see if your church listed under “non-denominational” or “Church of Christ.” For most of the places I’m familiar with, it’s the latter. Why is that? If we’re doing any thinking at all, our thought process is probably something along the lines of we want visitors who attend a Church of Christ somewhere else to know about us and we’re afraid if we list ourselves as non-denominational—they won’t think to look there! (That says something significant, don’t you think?). We’re more concerned about this then we are about how we present ourselves to the community. I don’t mean to suggest there’s any malice or menace involved in this—it simply reflects the way we drift if we’re not diligent.

When people hear “church,” let’s help them to see Jesus!

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