Church is not a good idea – it’s God’s idea!
Jesus spoke of building His church (community) in Matthew 16:18ff. The Scriptures also speak of this community being purchased by God (Acts 20:28). If church is this important to the Father and the Son, surely it will be to us.
Okay, but what exactly is church?
Church is a relational word! It is always used to speak of either our relationship with God through Jesus (Ephesians 1:20-23, 2:19-22), or our relationship with other Christians in the assembly, a local congregation, or the universal community of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:13). Church is God’s idea of community.
We need relationships! Shortly after He created Adam, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” (Genesis 2:18). While He was speaking specifically of Adam’s need for a wife, the words also apply to our need for relationships. We were created for them. Jesus said that to love God and others was what life was all about (Matthew 22:34-40).
We form communities on many different levels in response to this primal need. We are part of biological communities we call families, geographical communities we call towns, educational communities we call schools, professional communities we call associations, and the list goes on. All of these are good and have their place, but they’re also limited in their ability to bring and keep people together. At best, they bring certain groups of people together for a certain period of time. And because of this, they reflect man’s ultimate inability to create ideal community.
Only God can create ideal community. We are like Adam naming the animals but not finding among them anything that completely corresponds to who we are and what we need. Our attempts at community reflect our powerlessness to create it in an ultimate sense.
But in the Genesis story, you remember that God stepped in and created Eve. He put Adam to sleep and from him made Eve. God did for Adam what he was unable to do for himself to teach him that the marriage relationship was the product of His grace. In the same way, God did for us what we were unable to do for ourselves to teach us that ultimate community we experience in church is also the product of His grace. Paul develops all of this in Ephesians 5:31-32 where He speaks of Jesus leaving His Father (i.e., being put “to sleep” in death), so His wife (the church), could be created.
The church is ultimate community. Though it is filled with flawed human beings, they are brought together by the perfect love and sacrifice of Jesus. They pursue the perfect model of Christ. They have a perfect Father. They all share the same status (forgiven), and possess the same Spirit. There is a place for everyone in this community regardless of race, nationality, or background.
Nobody brings people together like Jesus Christ and people in Christ have a community unlike any other. That’s what church is about!