How often have you heard someone, when asked “Who is the Church” would respond with a quick, “I am the Church!”?
I know I’ve heard it….a lot. In fact, I’d dare say I’ve probably said it a time or two myself. And unfortunately, it’s just not an accurate or biblical statement to make.
Don’t misunderstand me, I get what people are implying by saying “I am the church.” But, I’m afraid even when pressed further for what exactly that means, most people have a hard time providing an accurate biblical presentation of what or who the church is and what they do and why they exist.
This past Sunday (June 2), my pastor began a new sermon series at our church titled, “I Love My Church” where we are beginning to explore in depth what or who is the church, why they exist, how they should function, and a whole lot of other fun topics in between.
The first sermon in the series was specifically about defining what or who the church really is. If you want to check out the sermon, you can find it HERE on YouTube!
As I have often found to be the case following a sermon, I end up running into or having to live out or confront the very things we discussed that Sunday. This week was no different. Over the last week I have encountered more erroneous thinking on what/who the church is and why they exist than I care to shake a stick at, and sadly…it appears to be a wide spread issue.
What exactly is being taught to believers in America concerning the Church? It certainly isn’t what the Bible teaches.
Anyways, in my engagements this week the statement, “I am the church” kept coming up over and over and over again. So finally, I decided I was going to write something about this for both myself (as a practice of really thinking out what I believe) and for others as a resource to them (hopefully).
So here we go…who exactly is the Church? And why does the Church exist?
Are you ready? Here it is:
I, alone, am NOT the Church.
I am but a single member of the Church.
Without the other members, I am not the Church.
I would simply be a Christian.
All of the above comes from the context of 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (CHECK IT OUT!).
I am a member of both the Church (universal) and the Church (locally).
The Church universal spans both space and time, and at a certain level we connect…that certain level being around One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism (Ephesians 4:4-6).
The Church locally is who I covenant specifically with in a very specific place, with very specific people, and with very specific authority and discipline in place in order to walk out my daily life as a believer in accordance with scripture (Ephesians 4:11-16):
- To be held accountable by those who love me.
- To be built up and encouraged by those who walk with me.
- To be taught by those who are wiser than me.
- To be led by those who have walked longer and further than me.
- To lead both by example and to step into the calling God has for my life.
- To experience spiritual growth in ways I could never do alone.
- To be an iron sharpening other iron.
- To be in submission to God’s delegated authority for covering and safety.
- To grow more into Christ and be more like Christ and worthy of my calling.
Simply stating, “I am the Church” is not an accurate response when we are asked who or what the church is, especially when you take that statement and hold it up to the light of Scripture.
Church, we live in a culture that likes to redefine things. Shoot, people within the church are redefining things as well…including who the church is with this very statement. But if we’re going to speak to a culture who likes to redefine things and help avoid the Church falling prey to the culture of redefinition, then we first need to be sure we actually understand the definition of who we are and why we exist and how we function.
I hope this helps 🙂