The Church, a Family in Christ
Eph 2 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This morning, my church set forth a fresh focus for the members – as a family. I certainly hope and pray that this will be widely and deeply adopted, affirmed and applied by all, as many have observed and the absence of the community spirit and experience in a large church. Before I express my thoughts on this (in future), Frank Viola comes to mind – a champion and beacon for believers to live as a community for the ultimate passion of God. (Rather than trying to share his thoughts, parts of his article on the “Anatomy of the Church” is appended below) :-
God is after a people who live for one purpose—His ultimate passion.
The Lord Jesus Christ is multi-splendid in His awe and beauty. He is so vast that one image or title cannot adequately present Him. Consider the many images and titles that Scripture employs to describe Christ: Son of God. King of kings. Prince of peace. Heavenly Bridegroom. Lord. Master. Savior. Lamb of God. Bright and Morning Star. Good Shepherd. Great High Priest. Light of the world. Root of David. The Righteous Branch, etc.
We have seen that the church is inseparable from Christ. This being so, the church is also multi-splendid in her awe and beauty. Like her Lord, the church is too rich to be defined. She is too vast to be depicted by just one image. For this reason, the New Testament paints fourteen different images (only two images are appended below) to present the church……
All of these images have two key elements in common.
First, every image is intensely corporate. All of them teach us that the church is a close-knit, intimate community of people. As Westerners, we are profoundly individualistic. By contrast, the early church embodied a togetherness-in-community. Each image makes this abundantly clear.
Second, each image teaches us that Jesus Christ, and not a human being, is the Head, the Leader, and the glue that cements the members of the church together.
1. A New Race (Gal. 6; Eph. 2; 1 Pet. 2). We are “a new humanity,” “a chosen generation,” “one new man,” and “a new creation.” When Jesus Christ made His entrance into human history, He was an endangered species on this planet. He was the first of a new kind of man. Jesus was God’s original thought for humanity, but God’s original intent for humanity became corrupt with the Fall. In His death and resurrection, Christ introduced a new species – or new creation – on this earth. He is the Firstborn and the Head of this new species. The church is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free, but “a new human” altogether.
Test 1: Do the members of your church see themselves as part of a new humanity, a new species, and a new race? Or do they relate to their fellow brethren based on the natural distinctions of physical race, nationality, gender, and social class?
Beyond a new race, the church is . . .
2. A Family (Gal. 6; Eph. 2; 1 John 2). This is one of the most striking images presented in all the New Testament. Visions of family dominate Paul’s writings. All throughout his letters, Paul speaks off-handedly of brethren, children, fathers and mothers. We are “regenerated” or “born anew” into the blameless Family of God. God becomes our Father and Jesus our elder Brother. Fellow Christians become our sisters and brothers. The writings of John and Peter are also sprinkled with the language and imagery of family.
Test 2: Do the members of your church treat one another as part of the same family? Do they know one another intimately? Do they experience themselves as members of an extended house¬hold? Do they take care of one another just as the members of a healthy family do?
Beyond the family, the church is . . .
(Do dive into Frank Viola’s article to read more of the other portraits of the Church of Christ. Frank has deep insights and convictions into the role and responsibility of priesthood of believers, as a family to perfect, protect and partner with one another in the family of Christ.)
…… all of the aforementioned images reinforce the point that the church is a close-knit, shared-life community of people who enthrone Jesus Christ together.
…. God has chosen to make His Son knowable, touchable, visible, and locatable on planet earth through only one vessel: The ekklesia. Jesus Christ has distributed Himself in His Body so that He might be expressed. The church, therefore, is God’s designated instrument for the expression of His Son. And it is the very heartbeat of God’s ultimate passion.
A sighting of God’s passion narrates our world and our lives. It adds texture and richness to our spiritual experience. It also delivers us from a passionless Christianity, a shallow walk, and a purposeless faith. The overwhelming passion of our Lord is to obtain the following in every city on this planet: A Bride who dearly loves Him, a House where He can dwell, a Body that freely expresses Him, and a Family that brings Him delight.
In this light, it is the supreme calling of every Christian leader to equip God’s people to see the mystery of God’s ultimate passion with spiritual eyes . . . to hear it with spiritual ears . . . to handle it with spiritual hands . . . to taste its sweetness and smell its fragrance.
God is looking for those who will burn for His ultimate passion and allow their lives to be shaped by it. May you be among that hearty band.