Lifelines: "Church"

There has never been a word more misused and abused than the word “church.” We say that we are going to church. It is used to describe a place of bricks, boards, stained glass, and if we are lucky, padded pews. We visualize a pulpit up front on a raised platform. It is a theatrical arrangement, and we wonder why people expect entertainment? The reality of “church” is an entirely different matter.

Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18). Whatever this thing called “church” was to be, it would be constructed by the Christ, the Son of the living God. It was to be based upon God-given information, and it was His to erect. The divine carpenter would oversee this project. A building was not what he had in mind. No, He had something more enduring planned that even death can never conquer.

Not only is Jesus the builder, He is the buyer. There can be no question about ownership, because He settled that issue once and for all. As we gaze at the cross, we see the cost. The crown of thorns gashed His scalp. Nails were driven through His hands and feet. All of this came after they had pulverized His back by scourging, and before they stabbed His side. It was a blood bath and more. It was a purchase. The church is His, and the transaction was made on a cross (Acts 20:28).

His great love for the church is communicated through the imagery of husband and wife (Eph. 5:22-32). It is more appropriate to describe the church as “her” than “it.” She has a unique relationship with the risen Christ, and He has tremendous loyalty and devotion to her. His concerns run deep for her holiness and He has done everything conceivable to make that possible. We may live in the moment, but the Lord has a view to eternity when it comes to His church.

She is unique. There may be imitations, but there is a single genuine church. It is described as His body (Eph 1:22-23), and there is only one (Ephesians 4:4). He is her head, and she is subject to Him being comprised of those whom the Lord added when they are saved (Acts 2:47). Indeed, Jesus builds His church (1 Peter 2:4-5). It is a spiritual house not a physical one and saved souls are His building blocks. That ought always to permeate our thinking and meaning when we use the word, “church.” We assemble in a building. We ARE the church.