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What is the Church?by Duane Mabee on August 17, 2022
What is the church and why should we care? A broad definition is: The community of all true believers, (Wayne Grudem). That definition includes all believers, throughout all time, in what is generally referred to as the universal church. But the church is also a local body of believers who gather together to worship God, grow in the faith, encourage each other, and work together to build God’s kingdom. We have chosen to express what the church is this way: North River exists to worship God, disciple believers, show the love of Christ, and share the gospel locally and worldwide.
Those are good definitions, but we need to go further. God describes the church as the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, a temple built together of living stones, etc. His descriptions are organic and pulsing with life. God deeply loves the church. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish, (ESV). Ephesians 1 tells us that the church is made up of God’s dearly loved, adopted Children. Ephesians 2 says God intentionally brought together a very diverse group of people, who once despised each other, and formed them into “one man” (i.e., the body of Christ), united together in Christ in a way that gives Him great glory.
God is deeply in love with His church – including this church – so, we should be, too, but we often aren’t. Why? Because the church is deeply flawed. It is made up of flawed people who are difficult to get along with. We are also deeply flawed and expect the church to be all about me. That has been true of every church in every generation, but God still loves the church and stakes His reputation on it. God doesn’t love the church because it is perfect. He loves the church because we are His people.
The church in Corinth was a mess. It had so many problems that we all would have gone church shopping. But God loved the Corinthian church. Jesus loved it. The Holy Spirit loved it, and so did the Apostle Paul. Instead of encouraging the people to abandon the Corinthian church and look for something that better met their needs, Paul addressed the issues and called the church to become the beautiful bride of Christ that God intended it to be.
North River is not Corinth by any stretch of the imagination, but by looking at the corrections Paul sent to that church, we can see what a truly healthy church can be. We can fall in love with the church, our church, the way God has.