I filled in as Sunday School teacher on Sunday and it so happened the lesson was about the birth of the early church. It also so happens that I am passionate about church and all that church is (to some degree) and more importantly, what it could be in our world today.
I love the way that God designed His Church to look so different in so many parts of the world and how even in our part of the world there are so many ideas and interpretations of what it looks like in all its different dimensions. Isn’t it beautiful that God has given the members of His Body, the Church, so much grace to be the interpreters of what the visible Body looks like in every century from Christ until now? And how with the same creativity with which God created the human race He also birthed His Church with creativity, allowing us, His people, to color how church is implemented and to bring our own personalities into the experience. I love how the Church is an organic living breathing organism that has developed and advanced across the centuries.
Several of the questions I posed to the class were these – “What is your hope for the Church locally and/or globally now and in the next hundred years? What do you think church should look like? What does God say that His Church should look like?”
What strikes me is that the church in Acts 4 was of “one heart and of one soul”. The writer is taking the Greek idea of friendship in which one soul dwells in two bodies and the Hebrew idea of total loyalty and merging them to come up with the unified body of the early church. I am also struck with the thought of the disciples, being “unlearned and ignorant” were very effective, powerful and bold because “they had been with Jesus”. When we have been with Jesus, the externals should fall away and as we move toward Him we become more unified as a body.
Can the community around us see that we as individuals have been with Jesus? Does that transfer into the larger group where the larger community can see that our church has been with Jesus? Are we living radical lives of self-sacrifice and self-denial in such a way that those around us can’t help but see Christ in a real and living way?
If followers of Christ would truly live out Romans 12, giving themselves as a living sacrifice, having a discussion about how we do church ought to be a moot point. Erwin McManus says the question should not be “how?” but “why?”. When we answer the question of why, so many of the things that drive us apart don’t matter anymore.
So my hope for the church is this – that she would rise up and be the Church that Jesus Christ the Bridegroom has called her to be – pure, spotless, blameless and holy. My hope is that revival would sweep the entire earth and that His Church would once more be vibrant and radical. And that the world could see that she has been with the Bridegroom, Jesus!
It’s your turn…
What is your hope for the Church? Would you share it here in the comments?