Church Is Not A Building; But A People
Jesus uses His Church as a significant means to produce His intended changes in our lives. Now, for many professed believers, in America, that is dissident because the Western Church has been such a huge disappointment & embarrassment. The problem has never been with Jesus’ Church; but, with the human operation of His Church! We’ve “institutionalized” it when Jesus created it to be “communal.” The Apostle Paul sets up what the Church should look like in his letter to the Church of Ephesus— I think it’s easy to forget that this is written to a specific, local Church! He writes to “…the faithful saints in Christ Jesus at Ephesus…”; and, 9 times in 6 short chapters he refers to them as the “Church”— “ekklesia” is the original Greek word; and, it literally means a “called out assembly.”
The Corporate Calling Of The Church
God calls out His Church of Jesus-followers from the people of the world; and, the point of their being “called out” is to “assemble” in “community”; or, “communally” like a family; and, to meet each other’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Just take the time to read through ch. 4 of Ephesians; and, don’t read it through the glasses of your “American Church culture.” The “you’s” are NOT to be read as individual “you’s.” In context, that is clearly not what the Apostle Paul intended. It’s “YOU”, the CHURCH, the community of believers doing life together! “I urge YOU (the Church of Ephesus),” Paul says, “to walk worthy of the calling YOU (the Church of Ephesus) have received…” It’s a corporate calling— YOU, the Church of Ephesus, have this calling TOGETHER!
God’s Grace To Build Up The Church
Paul says they ought to be so entrenched in their calling, TOGETHER, that the fruit of the Spirit is evident in the way they do ministry as a BODY— v.2 “with…humility…gentleness…patience & love…” These are the fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians,5). In v.3 there should be unity in their community that’s Holy Spirit driven “…with a peace that binds US.” Read it in context— the “US” is the Church of Ephesus! And, the Church of Ephesus is ONE BODY (v.4); and, Paul doesn’t break the body down to its “individual” parts until we get to v.7, “…now grace was given to each one of us…” And, this “grace” came to each individual, in the Church of Ephesus, in the form of a GIFT (v.8) from Jesus, our Messiah & Savior, to build up their local Church in Ephesus! Do you see it? This is a beautiful picture that the apostle has drawn for us. But we can only see it as we detach ourselves from our current culture and time period.
Jesus’ Goal For His Church
In ch.4, v.13, of Paul’s letter to the Church of Ephesus he writes, “…that we (the Church of Ephesus) reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of Jesus growing in maturity…” Because of our “American Church Culture” we read into that, our “individual” walk with Christ; but, that’s NOT the context of Paul’s words! Their spiritual maturity was not to be a “solo” act! Paul is saying that the goal was a spiritually mature “Church community”— a Church no longer resembling a bunch of immature little brats (v.14). But, a church community made up of spiritually mature believers speaking the truth to each other in love (v.15). In the next verse, Paul tells them it’s the “whole body” (the Church of Ephesus) that ministers to their “whole body.” So, here’s the application: Jesus intends to use our local churches to sanctify us as individuals! We grow spiritually in the BODY! That is Jesus’ design for our spiritual growth— in a community of faith!