We are all used to saying, “It’s time to go to church,” or “Where do you go to church?” What we mean in these phrases is the name, denomination, building, or location of the place we gather to worship. It might be a cathedral, a chapel, a school building, or a house, but wherever it is it is our church. Churches are often associated with ornate doors, stained glass, steeples, spires, artwork, or statues, but all are marked with prominent signs announcing who they are. But is this all there is to “church”? Is this what Jesus spoke of when He said “I will build My Church”? The Bible, God’s revelation of Himself to us, makes it clear that the Church is much more than buildings, beliefs, or denominations. God says that WE, those who belong to Him, are the Church.
So, Who is the Church?
Paul, a man called of God to teach and record His truth, and to share the gospel to many, taught that 24″ I am glad that I can suffer for you. I am pleased also that in my own body I can continue the suffering of Christ for his body, the church“. (His letter to the Colossian church). So, we can see here that the “Body of Christ” is, actually, known to be synonymous with the “Church”.
What, or who, then, is the “body of “Christ”? Paul, in another passage, says in his letter to the church in Corinth (12:27), 27 “Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body”. The Body of Christ is US, His followers, those who love Him, and who have been rescued by His grace.
The founder of the “home church” movement in England, Canon Ernest Southcott, said it best:
“The holiest moment of the church serviceis the moment when God’s people—strengthened by preaching and sacrament—go out of the church door into the world to be the church. We don’t go to church; we are the church.”
The church, therefore, is not a place. It’s not the building, it’s not the location, and it’s not the denomination. We—God’s people who are in Christ Jesus—are the church.
All this to bring the joyous news that we are not, primarily individual Christians, but part of a much grander people of God, a people who are His hands, feet, and voice in the world. The Bible says in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, ” God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything. 3 The church is Christ’s body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything“.
I hope that this truth fills you with joy, and that when you next worship with His people, you will remember that you are a part, along with those who worship beside you, of the ancient Church of God, a sacred and holy gathering.