Christian Beliefs and Creeds — Church
This week’s sermon is available to watch here.
This week we talked about the church. This is a big topic and one that brings up a lot of different thoughts, opinions and feelings.
When I studied the Old Testament and the Hebrew language, I was often hit by the communal aspect of the Bible. And honestly, this is a difficult concept for me sometimes, probably because I have grown up in a very individualistic society. If we look at our western culture, individualism is encouraged. It is thought of as noble and good to make it on my own, to do what makes me happy, and to be my “true self.” These are the values of our society, and they seep into how we act and what we believe — even when it comes to our faith. We think very individually about our relationship with God and others.
But when we look at the Bible — both the Old and New Testaments — what we see encouraged is the community. Almost always in the Bible when we read the word “you” it is plural — addressed to a group, not an individual. God saved the nation of Israel at the crossing of the Red Sea — as a community of people. He rescued them and chose them and they committed to Him. In the New Testament, the first Christians met together, ate together, worshiped together, and shared their possessions. They did not go home after work and shut themselves in their homes and get on Facebook, like I tend to do.
The Bible encourages us to live in community, to be the church, to not give up meeting together.
Some people are disillusioned by the church because they have been hurt or had a bad experience. And it’s true — people are in the church, and people are sinful. That means we will likely be hurt or experience something we don’t like in the midst of this community. However, the church is so much more than this. As Pastor Dan put it yesterday:
The church is not a human organization as such, but a divinely created community of sinners who trust a common Saviour, and are one with each other because they are all one with Him in a union realized by the Holy Spirit.
We — the church — are a community of sinners. But we have a common Saviour! A rescuer who makes all things new — even us. Pastor Dan made four points about what the church is:
- The church is a community of the covenant. Covenant is so important in the Bible — these unbreakable promises God makes with His people. He has covenanted with us, His people, not just individually, but as a community.
- The church is a community of the Spirit. As we come to church, we enter into the presence of God as we interact with His Spirit-filled people. We should come with anticipation and thanksgiving. We should come with a healthy fear of God, knowing Whose presence we’re entering into.
- The church is a community of love. We can’t just do our own thing — the work of God needs to extend to the healing of our relationships. We are interacting with those whom Jesus purchased with His own blood.
- The church is a community on mission. I really appreciated Pastor Dan’s take on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are given for mission first. They are given for the advancement of the gospel. We see this in Acts 2 when people are filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter, who was always blundering and messing up and even denying Christ, suddenly gets up and gives a bold and magnificent speech about the saving power of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit changed him and made him a bold messenger of the gospel.
So, as we ponder these things this week, let’s think about what the following commitments look like in our lives:
Committing to the church through attendance, serving, etc.
Committing to the mission of the church — preach the gospel!
Committing to the unity of the church — united in our relationships with one another and other churches.