bits from bob....
The church must rethink the biblical model: "What is the church?" What does it mean to be "church?" Equally valid: "What does it mean to do church?" How does the church act? Are only individual Christians known by their fruits, or does that verse apply to Christians collectively too? Certainly the latter!
Who is the church? How do you define church? Someone reminds that ekklesia means "called out." Called out of what? For what? In the NT, ekklesia means "a gathering" or "an assembly" and is used in a purely secular sense in Acts 19:32,39,41. In Matthew 12, Jesus told a parable to remind us that sweeping and cleaning a house (we are against dirt!) is insufficient. The sweeping and cleaning must be followed by filling the house with something positive (what are we for?). Otherwise, the evil spirit returns with seven more evil than himself.
In the NT, church is defined by purpose. What is the purpose of the assembly where you worship? That purpose dictates and defines function. We have been focused on names and descriptions. The church is body, temple, bride of Christ, fulness, household of God, household of faith, pillar and bulwark of truth, people of God, new Israel, chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, God's own possession. All true, but incomplete!
What does the church do in the NT? To what has God called the church? What is our primary definition?
In the NT, the church is a group of people who intimately share their lives in meaningful fellowship--frustrations, burdens, temptations, victories. Do we? The church is family--are we? The church is Christ's body and Christ's fulness. As such we represent Christ to the world. We live under the umbrella of his protection and guidance. We can grow, reproduce ourselves, respond to him. The church is God's tool and method for evangelism. How does this church measure up by these definitions?
The church is temple. This is worship. Do we worship? On Monday through Saturday? The early church did!
Are we faithfully living out church in our lives? To what extent does/should/can the modern church resemble the first century church in action, attitude, and practice? The early church was compassionate. Are we? Are you?
Getting "church" right involves terms of entrance, manner of worship, and a whole host of proper biblical emphases. This is not a suggestion that these should be dropped. But we can get so focused on the "micro" that we cannot see the "macro," and we still won't get it right! In fact, we'll likely never get it right! Right acting is finally beyond us! Right thinking is beyond all but the infallible!
Purpose defines function. What is the church to do? Worship, fellowship, evangelize, grow spiritually in grace and knowledge. Awesome God, intimate sharing, salt and light and leaven, reaching a measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, having the mind of Christ-- humble, serving others, compassionate, caring. The list of items we seldom mention as defining church is almost endless. Will we learn to be and to do church biblically? When?
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