How does a person connect with God’s community (the church)?
Since church is God’s community, it is entered into by coming into relationship with Him through Jesus.
In the fifth chapter of Ephesians, Paul speaks of Jesus loving the church and giving Himself up for her (v. 25). He then says in v. 26, that Jesus cleansed her, “by the washing of water through the word.” This is a reference to baptism. When a person acting on faith is baptized the Scriptures speak of them as coming into relationship with God and His community.
This can be seen in the story of the church’s beginning, which can be read about in the second chapter of Acts. A number of Jewish people had traveled to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Pentecost (v. 1, 5). Peter began to speak to them about Jesus (v. 14-26). In his message, he talked about:
- Jesus’ death on the cross (v. 23),
- His resurrection from the dead (v. 24),
- His Lordship (v. 36).
Since Christ had been crucified during the Passover (another Jewish holiday that took place 50 days before Pentecost), many in the audience had been in Jerusalem and were among those who called for Jesus’ crucifixion (see Matthew 27:20-23). When they realized that the One they had demanded be crucified was in fact God’s Son, they asked what they should do (v. 37). Peter’s response was for them to repent and be baptized (v. 38). Three thousand people did just that and we’re told, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day,” (v. 41).
Notice that those who were baptized “were added to their number.” What number would that be? It was the number of believers, the church. Verse 47 tells us, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” People became part of the community of believers when they were saved. They were saved when their faith in Jesus led them to repentance and baptism. It is through baptism then that we become part of God’s community, the church.
In the verses between v. 41 and v. 47, we see a picture of the early church community learning, praying, sharing, praising, and growing. They did all of these things together. Truly, being a Christian is not a destination—it is a journey. However, it is God’s intent that we make this journey together with others. No one is supposed to go it alone. That’s what church is all about!