Summary: There are many ideas out there of what the church is or what it ought to be. In this passage Paul tells us what God's idea is of the church - and God's idea is, is what counts!
The Church Where God Lives
What is the church? What is a church? Is it a building? An institution? I grew up as a Catholic. We were taught that the Catholic Church is The Church. It is an elaborate institution, with churchs, cathedrals, basilicas and the Vatican, which is the ultimate church, the centre of The Church. The Catholic Church has priests, bishops, cardinals, and the Pope who head of the Catholic church. But even if we are not Catholics, does the church have to have a steeple, stained glass windows to be a church? As protestants, baptists, we are not into elaborate churches. Even though our churches are simpler, is the church the building? Or is it an institution, employing thousands in various things such as social work, community work etc.
Some have reacted against this so called institutionalised Christianity. For example, there is the emerging church. Wikipedia says about them:
The emerging church is a Christian movement of the late 20th and early 21st century that crosses a number of theological boundaries: participants can be described as evangelical, post-evangelical, anabaptist, liberal, post-liberal, reformed, charismatic, neocharismatic, post-charismatic, conservative, and post-conservative. Proponents, however, believe the movement transcends such "modernist" labels of "conservative" and "liberal," calling the movement a "conversation" to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature, its vast range of standpoints, and its commitment to dialogue. Participants seek to live their faith in what they believe to be a "postmodern" society. What those involved in the conversation mostly agree on is their disillusionment with the organized and institutional church and their support for the deconstruction of modern Christian worship, modern evangelism, and the nature of modern Christian community.
So for the emergent church, church has become a conversation. Others abandon traditional church structures altogether. They meet in coffee shops and perhaps the topic of God will come up. For them, that is church. Some stress the universal, invisible church. They say that there is no need to go to church, no need to meet together. The church is all Christians all over the world and there is no need for formal gatherings.
So what is the church? And if Christians cant agree, what is the worlds perception of the church? Aussies go to Europe as tourists, or see in movies, beautiful, old buildings with stained glass windows. They are great tourist attractions but are they anything more? Lately in the news we here the perception that it is a corrupt institution run be paedophile priests. Is it an irrelevant institution, out of date with 21st century morals and values?
What is the church?
Weve discussed what society thinks of the church, what various Christians think of the church. But what do YOU think of the church? If you are a Christian, do you see yourself as part of the church? More specifically, part of a particular church, for example, Gympie Baptist Church, or perhaps another if you are visiting with us today? What is it that you are a part of? - or do you just come along? Do you value it? Is it important to you?
Today we are going to look at what the church is. We are not going to look at what 2000 years of history says it is although that can be important in its place. We are not going to look at what the latest trends say it is or should be. But we will look at what the Bible says it is. That is, what God says. The Bible says a lot about the church. Ephesians says a lot. And these few verses Eph 2:19-22 say a lot.
But lets recap what weve looked at in Eph so far. In chapter 1 we talked about our spiritual blessings. In Eph 2:1-10 we talked about death to life. We were dead in our sins but through the death and resurrection of Christ, He made us alive in Him, if you believe and trust in Him. He made us His workmanship, created for good works. In Eph 2:11-18, the last time we looked at Ephesians, remember that we were alienated from God and excluded from being part of the people of God. But through Christ, God has broken down that division, so we have access to God.
But what is it we have access to? Yes, the access is to God, but it is also to Gods community, Gods people, which is the church. And Ephesians 2:19-23 describe the church.
What is the church? In Greek the word is εκκλησια / ekklesia. It simply means assembly an assembly or gathering of people. This tells us straight away that the church is not a building. It might own a building, such as we have here. But the building is NOT the church. The church is us. The actual building we can call it the church building. We can call it the place where the church meets.