Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Christ and the Church:His Body--by Linden Malki
Jesus is recorded as specifically mentioning "The Church" only once by the Gospel writers, but the statement is very powerful. What He said is "I will build my Church". All of Scripture deals with God's relationship with a called community. Jesus did repeatedly talk of this community using the same image as the Old Testament prophets, the book of Acts, most of St Paul's books, and John's Revelation: a marriage. Revelation 19 describes the culmination of history: "The Reign of the Lord God the Almighty has begun; let us glad and joyful and give praise to God, because this is the time for the marriage of the Lamb. His bride is ready, and she has been able to dress herself in dazzling white linen, because her linen is made of the good deeds of the saints." (Rev 19:7-9). I find it interesting that the perfection of the Church comes at the end of the book! The whole historical process of God's calling His People is one of preparing this community to be in this incredible relationship with Him. We should not be surprised if this community is not perfect! He's not finished yet. He is patiently loving, teaching, inspiring, disciplining, winnowing, washing, and forming us into a fit partner for Him, which will be completed at the end of Time and continue for Eternity.
The other image that Jesus gives us of our communal relationship with Him is His Body. St Paul speaks repeatedly of the Church being the Body of which Christ is the Head, the Controller. We are an obstreperous and not very cooperative Body much of the time! On our own, we do not know what or how to be what we are called to be. We are called to submit, to be willing to be built into this relationship. We see this with our own bodies. The recent Olympic Games have given us examples of what the human body can do--and glimpses of the training and discipline required to get that level of performance.
We are very blessed in being called to a personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus, but this was never intended to be only one-on-one. When Peter preached to Jerusalem in Acts 2, the result was not only individuals coming into this relationship, but the formation of a community, one that continues the pattern of His people coming together in worship. As human beings, we form all sorts of relationships, groups, assemblies, crowds, and some of them even call themselves churches. But if we do not give up our own efforts and designs, we will not be at that glorious Banquet. We are not called to "build a church"; that is what God sent His Son to do. We are called to Be the church: members of His Body, His Bride, His People, on His terms.