The Church is not a building, the Church is not a steeple.
The Church is not a resting-place, the Church is a people!
I am the Church! You are the Church!
We are the Church together!
All who follow Jesus, all around the world,
Yes, we’re the Church together.
If you grew up in and around Church circles, or attended Sunday School, you might recognise this little chorus.
I suppose it goes without saying that the Church is not a building. Not that we should become complacent. I have tried hard to get into the habit of referring to “the Church building”, so as to make it clear when I am talking about bricks and mortar, and when I’m talking about something much bigger, wider, and more stunning than even the most impressive Gothic Cathedral.
What is “the Church”? Put simply, it is the collective term for people that believe in God, and that He is known only through Jesus Christ. The fact that this is collective means you cannot be “the Church” on your own: the gathering and belonging together is fundamental.
That’s what the Church is. So what does it do?
Or, perhaps a better question is, “What is it meant to do?” Because, let’s be honest: the Church, over the years, hasn’t always been very good at doing what it’s supposed to do.
Firstly, the Church is meant to act as a witness to everything we’ve looked at so far in this series. In all my previous posts, we have explored some of the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith, and the Church is supposed to share this with other people. As a minister, I have a very particular role in sharing this faith with others.
The most vital aspect of the Christian faith that the Church is meant to share is the reality that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has created the means for us to be reconciled to Him, to enjoy the relationship with Him as it was meant to be, and to look forward to a time beyond death when we will live together, in the New Creation, with all who put faith in Jesus, and with God.
The second thing the Church is meant to do is act as a sign post to the future I’ve just described. In response to the belief that God will one day restore the world to how it was meant to be, we are called to offer help and support, and to show people what the Kingdom of God is like. It’s a place of healing, comfort and forgiveness. The ills of this world are dealt with, and people find rest, sometimes for their body, always for their soul. The Church is meant to achieve this by working against injustice in our world.
That’s what the Church is, what it’s meant to do, and by extension, what we as Christians are called to do as part of the Church.
If you’re reading this and this hasn’t been your experience of the Church: please know that I am truly sorry.
But know this: we in the Church are just the same as you outside of it. All of us are sinners in need of God’s grace. At it’s best, the Church is a collection of sinners who have found forgiveness though Jesus. So, of course we’re going to get things wrong, we aren’t perfect! But then again… no one is…!
So, this presents a choice: you can either get things wrong on your own, and continue on your current path. Or you can get things wrong, and know there is One from whom you can receive forgiveness when you come to Him.