For some time now, I have been thinking about the Church and our language in describing the church of today. When we make reference to the church, and of course we do that quite often, we begin to sound very possessive. There is nothing wrong with our casual reference about the church when we describe it as “our church” or “my church”. However, the human mind is such that if we repeat the phrase often enough we actually begin to believe that it really is our church because we were baptized into it, or because it is the place where we were dedicated or ordained or married, or because it is simply the body of believers with whom we personally identify as we follow Christ together. Now when we make reference to my church, we begin to believe that I, or we, own the church. The result is I want you, the outsider, to know how long my family has been a part of this community of faith and how long we have been worshiping, working, and spending our money to keep this place going.
The Scripture contains some interesting descriptions of the relationship of Jesus to the Church. Here is what Jesus says about the Church. “…I will build my Church…” He is definitely not speaking about property because the early church had no property. Meditate on the following verses found in Matthew 16: 13-18 and pay careful attention to the last sentence.
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man Is?’ They answered, ‘Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah [the Christ], the Son of the living God!’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! No human revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven revealed it to you. You are Peter, and I can guarantee that on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of hell will not overpower it.’”
Think on verse eighteen. “I will build my church…” That is Jesus speaking, and He knows exactly what He is talking about. Jesus gave His life for the Church’s redemption. Be encouraged whenever you are inclined to use my church or our church to recall that it is Jesus Christ who said that the Church is His and that He was and is the only one who gave His life for the redemption of us all. The Church in any season of the year belongs to the Christ alone.
Stafford Frederick – CBC Executive Board member