About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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What Does Church Mean To You?


For some people church means going to a Sunday morning meeting.  Others view church as a designated religious building.  Some people's experience with church is similar to a social or civic club.  They attend periodically when it's convenient.  Many acknowledge that church is people but their acknowledgment isn't demonstrated in the way they live.  What does church mean to you?  More importantly, how does the Bible view church?


The first time we read the word "church" in the New Testament is found in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said that He would build His church.  Jesus didn't speak English.  He certainly never spoke the word "church."  Although Matthew wrote Jesus' words in Greek it is commonly understood that Jesus spoke Aramaic, a language akin to Hebrew.  The Aramaic word Jesus probably spoke (krista) meant a gathering or community of people. 


Our English word "build" in Matthew 16:18 is translated from the Greek word "oikodomeo."  This word consists of 2 Greek words meaning, "house" and "build."  Inherent, therefore, in the building process Jesus spoke of is the process by which He would create a house, or, a household of people belonging to Him. 


The above two words form the foundation to the basic meaning of church.  They tell us that Jesus considered church to be a family, or a community of people belonging to Him.  The Apostle Paul wrote about this relational aspect of church in 1 Corinthians 12.  In verse 12 He said that church is the Body of Christ.  I understand this to mean that since Jesus is no longer on earth in physical form, He has filled His community of people with His Spirit.  The church, therefore, is the Spirit of God living in a corporate human form.  You might say the church is the replacement physical body of Jesus on earth.


Paul then said that true believers have been baptized, or immersed, into the Body of Christ.  In other words, at initial salvation, a true believer was immersed into the lives of people belonging to Jesus who form God's earthly human body.  Maybe you have never thought about church this way before, but when you became a Christian you were not only united to Jesus, you were united to His people.  The two go hand in hand.  They cannot be separated.  Christians were never meant to be isolationists.    


Church is more than a matter of a hand shake or hug on a Sunday morning, attending a meeting, or even holding an organizational office.  Church is more than a sideline activity that you participate in from time to time.  Church is not about being a spectator.  It's about being a participant.  Church, being joined to those to whom Jesus has called you alongside, is central to who you are.  It's an integral part of who you will become, and, it provides an important format for serving Jesus.  With this in mind, what does church mean to you?      

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