What Is The Church… To You?
By Toby Crowder
Col 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
“Here’s the house… Here’s the steeple… open it up and see the people!” How many times in youth did we play this simple game without ever considering the truth that a church is just that… people. It is not a building of brick, wood, or other materials… the church is comprised of people. The true church is made up of all those who have been made a new creature in Christ and have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. Matt 16:18 is the first mention of the church when Jesus told Peter that “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” And then we see the beautiful example of the formation of the New Testament church in Acts 2:47b … “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Even though we know what the Bible says about the church, what would be our personal definition? I asked several folks to define what church meant to them in just a few words, and I found some great responses such as: “family & faith” … “serving the Lord together” … “God’s people gathered” and other great thoughts. My own brief description was this: “The church is a group of saved believers united as a family that God has placed together to shelter and serve one another; providing a spiritual home while we are at work for Christ in this world.” While there is much truth in all these definitions of the church, notice that all of them involve OTHERS. In today’s society, many folks do not want to be a part of the local body of Christ. They feel that they can worship independently and never see the need to associate or align with a local church body. The church is something that was never meant to be experienced alone! The church is meant to be a family, and a place of involvement, worship, fellowship, and love.
It is up to each of us to decide what the church is and what it means to us individually. To some, it is only a building; It is a structure… and nothing more. To others, it is only a spot on the map or a geographic location…. How sad! And even sadder still, in this day and time of constant activity, to some the church has become nothing more than a bother or an imposition. Unfortunately, this is where some church members find themselves… weary of the work and tired of all the activity. The church has become to some just another date on the calendar or another “place to be.”
If all this sounds familiar, can I give you a word of encouragement? The church of the living God is more than just a building, or a belief, (or a bother.) It is a BODY of believers, united in the fellowship of Jesus Christ. Paul uses the word “body” many times in his writings to describe the church and it is a fitting description. Regardless of where we assemble or how scattered it may seem at times, it is this body of Christ that we were born into upon our conversion. The one true body of believers is an example of the several local bodies…which covenant together as they believe. While some would argue a difference between the universal church and the local church, notice that many of the books of the New Testament are written either about or directly to the local church. The book of Acts lists or mentions at least 19 different local churches and we can consider the books that are specific letters to local churches such as Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phil, Colossians, and others. The fact that a person is saved into the larger body, does not mean that they are excused from being a part of the local body where they can grow, exercise their spiritual gifts, fellowship with other believers, and worship the Lord.
To be a part of the body of Christ is a blessing…and it only comes through Him! To be a part of a local body of believers is a blessing…and it only comes through Him! How do you define church… is it a building, belief, a bother…or is it a blessing for which you are thankful?
Toby Crowder serves as Pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Spruce Pine. He and his wife Leslie have been married for 26 years and have two daughters, Emilee, and Katy. He can be contacted via the church’s website MCfamilyforChrist.org or firstname.lastname@example.org
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