Summary: We are the body of Christ but what makes us a healthy body?
The Church, The Body of Christ
The Church. The Church. When I say church, what do you think of? A little white clapboard building with a steeple and a bell, or perhaps the Crystal Cathedral in California. Maybe you don’t think of a building instead you think of people, perhaps your friends and fellow believers at Cornerstone come to mind, if so that is good. Church means many different things to many different people. Some people feel warm and fuzzy inside when you mention church, other’s get angry. But the reality is that if you are a believer, a Christ Follower then you have no doubt had some experience with a church.
For some people Cornerstone Church became a church when we moved into this building. But does a building make a church? When people ask me what I do I tell them “I pastor the church across from Kingswood” and for many that means that I work in this building. The reality is that I pastor, or shepherd, the people who meet in this building.
So let’s start by defining what Church means. In the New Testament, the word that was used was a Greek word, which makes a lot of sense considering the New Testament was written in Greek. And the word was ekklesia, From ek 'out of' and kaleo 'call' thus they were the called out ones. And although that word wasn’t used exclusively to mean Church it was the word used to describe the Church. The English word Church has its roots in a different word that literally meant “Of the Lord.”
A.W. Tozer said “One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organizations do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.”
Over the past three weeks we have been looking at the church. We started with what it would cost for our church to grow, that it would mean that we would be in a constant state of change, because every new family, every new person in the church would change what the church looked like. And then we spoke about how we would have to give up our smallness, as perceived as that may or may not be, and that it would require sacrifice, of time, talent, money and preferences.
Then two weeks ago we spoke about what it meant for the church to be the bride of Christ and the things that we could do to be the most attractive bride possible. Last week the message was based on the Church being the Family of God and what that meant 2000 years ago and what it means for us today.
There is another metaphor that the New Testament used for the church and it is found in the scripture that was read for us earlier Ephesians 4:15-16 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
We are told here that the Church is the Body of Christ. But it does tell us that we shouldn’t be content to just be any body that we are to be a healthy body. So what does that mean?
How do we become and remain a healthy church? A church that had an impact on its entire community and the lives of the people in that community? A church that makes a difference not just for the here and now but for the there and then? A church that has an eternal impact and makes an eternal difference?
Let’s go back to the scripture we started with: Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
1) A Healthy Church Will Have Christ at the Head. That seems almost self-evident but I’m not sure that it is. Notice that I didn’t say a Healthy Church will be a Christian Church. The reason is that I don’t think that every church that calls itself a Christian church is a Christ following church or for that matter a Christian Church. What makes a church a Christian Church? Historically they were churches that fell in line with the Apostle’s Creed. What is the Apostle’s Creed, glad you asked. Let’s read it together.
The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,