When it comes to church, people have opinions about what church should be. They either have opinions based on what they have heard church should be like or traditions they experienced in church. The Bible has a lot to say about what church is and what it should be like. To introduce this series, we’re going to focus on what a church is and why there is a church.
In Romans, Paul discusses the body of Christ and how it functions. In Romans 12:5 Paul says this, “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” What Paul is saying here is that we are all one unified people. We may be in different areas of the world, but together we are the body of Christ, we are unified. He then explains that we are also individual people.
In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul uses an analogy of the human body to make his point. 1 Corinthians 12:12, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” Paul says that the human body has many parts to it, but all of those parts make up one body. Every member of the church is a part of the whole. We are unified in the body of Christ but we are diverse in our gifts as Paul explains. He says that a foot is not a hand and an ear is not an eye. Each part has different functions and purposes. It is the same with the people in the body of Jesus. Each part has its own purpose for the greater good of the whole body.
Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 2:20 point to Jesus as the head of the church. He is the foundation, the cornerstone, the head. No person should be a top of the body of Christ. All of us are human and therefore we belong to the body but we are not the head. Jesus Christ is our authority and only him.
This leads us to our purpose as a church. In Ephesians, Paul is talking about being one in Christ. Ephesians 2:21 says, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” What Paul is saying is that in Christ Jesus everyone is joined together, everyone is unified. We rise, like the construction of a building, to become a temple in the Lord. The temple was where God dwelt for his people Israel. God wants to dwell with us today and that is what the church is supposed to be. We are to be a dwelling place for God, where heaven and earth meet and where people come in contact with Jesus.
In each one of us, there is a temple waiting to be filled. 1 Corinthians 2:16-17 says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” Paul comes out and says that we are God’s temple because the Spirit lives in us. We are the living, breathing temple of God in which the Spirit dwells. When we all come together as one, we unify ourselves as one holy temple where God’s spirit is. It is a beautiful picture of Jesus bringing us together as a unified body to be a temple where God dwells and where people can come and be exposed to God’s love, mercy, and grace.
In 1 Peter 2, Peter says we are being built “to be a holy priesthood”. Well what is a priest? A priest had many jobs, but his main jobs were to represent God to the people, intercede on behalf of the people and offer sacrifices. Today, we can represent God to others by following Christ’s example. We intercede for others by praying earnestly for them and with them. We also offer sacrifices, not with blood and animals but with mercy and love towards others. Romans 12 tells us that our spiritual worship is giving our lives to Christ and obeying him. These are ways we can be “priests” to others.
In the end, the church is God’s invitation to a world of hurt. With Jesus as our head, we all use our gifts and abilities for the good of the whole. When we do this, the Spirit lives in us and we become a living temple to those we meet. When we meet for “church” all of us come together as one body, where God is, and encourage one another and the world to be more like Jesus.