Summary: Christians should love others, and the way we show it is through relationships. We cannot keep God’s love hemmed by the church’s four walls but must let it flow freely to all people.
Picture Perfect was a 1995 movie about two teenagers from neighboring families who joined their families in hopes of winning a soda company’s grand prize for the perfect family. What they didn’t know was the company CEO had to live with the family for a week before making a decision. The two teens were eventually forced to reveal their predicament to their parents who reluctantly agreed to live out the farce for the week, never imagining they would actually be chosen. After being selected as winners, they were forced to reveal the lie. Of course it had a happy ending and the two single parents fell in love and married.
How does a perfect church look? The immediate problem is there are none. I once knew a lady who was accustomed to saying something like “It may be a perfect church now, but after I join it won’t be.”
Ben Campbell Johnson tells a story illustrating the role of the church in the world. A young lady’s parents are killed. The church she attends adopts her, cares for her needs, and even sends her to college. Upon graduation, she returns to the community and asks the pastor to let her address the church. Standing before the congregation, she thanks God for all he has accomplished in her life, looks at the congregation and thanks them, then addresses various sections of the congregation. Summing up the feelings of her heart, she says "You are Him here. You are Him here."
This is the mission of the church. We are extensions of Christ’s ministry on earth. We are his body, and he has left us the responsibility of carrying forth his work. We are his arms, hands, feet, legs, ears, and eyes. It is unfortunate many local churches have lost their purpose and others have a hard time determining what it is to begin with. They have no clear sense of direction. God’s Word, however, is very clear on the reason for the church’s existence.
The present scripture paints a portrait of a picture perfect church.
A Picture Perfect Church Is A Chosen Community
This concept of the church is found in the Old Testament. God called Israel as a chosen people and had a plan for them. They were called out from other people. Thus the concept of the church begins in the Old Testament but isn’t fulfilled until the New Testament.
Being a chosen community involves several concepts. It means the church is of God. We find the concept of what it means to be chosen in the story of Abraham. God told him: Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2 NKJV)
The covenant was extended through Christ and then to the church. Israel was not special because they were better than anyone else. It was because of God’s love they were chosen.
The same is true of the church. The church came into existence because of the love and call of God. So great was his love he sent Christ to die for the church. The church was not a human idea but God’s.
The second idea involved in a chosen community is making God’s love known. God’s purpose for Israel was to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. They were to exhibit his love to pagans who lived around them.
In the New Testament, Peter applies this concept to the church: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (I Peter 2:9-10 NKJV) As God’s people, we are instruments who make his love known to a lost world. This is an individual and community responsibility.
A third idea involves living in community. In choosing Israel, God shows concern for a community. Israel was God’s people and responsible for living up to their name. Though identified as God’s people, they often failed him miserably. Even though God did many wonderful things for them, their pattern was often rebellion.
This idea of community is important. Being a Christian means belonging to a community. God’s concern was so great for this community that Christ died for it. This makes us responsible for our lifestyle.
A Picture Perfect Church Is A Body Of Christ
Just as bodies must have heads so does the church. The head of the church is Jesus Christ. As head, he directs the church. In fact, the very nature of the church is determined by Christ. We acknowledge his headship through living sanctified lives.