About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
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
word consists of 2 Greek words meaning, "house" and
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
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?