The Vision of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Believer in God’s Eyes
God has taken the initiative to pursue each of us and to bring us into His eternal family. That is one of the reasons God sent Jesus on mission in this world. Jesus came to redeem and restore all things back to God. When we say “yes” to following the Lord Jesus Christ, our lives are changed (Matt 4:19; John 1:12; 2 Co 5:17). Jesus becomes the Lord of our lives (Ro 10:9-10). We want to align with Jesus and His ways because God’s love has changed us forever (John 14:15, 21; Ro 8:28-29).
One of the first things the Lord does is to place us in a community of committed followers of Jesus. Jesus called 12 disciples to follow him closely and others joined along (Matt 4:19-25). Those committed followers increase in their personal and corporate intimacy with God, grow in experiencing authentic community of a shared vision under the leadership of Jesus, and seek to join God on His mission in the world and their spheres of influence with others, not just as isolated individuals.
When the church was birthed on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, God placed those new believers into a committed community of followers of Jesus (Acts 2:41-47). They met both in the temple and in homes (small groups). But the point is, they met together under the leadership of the appointed leaders and grew individually and corporately.
What is God’s vision for our lives? According to the Scripture, each individual Christian life is a living temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-10). A temple is a habitation for God. It is a mystery, but God makes His home in each of us individually. And, God puts each of our lives together with others to form a living temple, a spiritual house, where God dwells by His Spirit (Eph 2:19-22; 1 Pe 2:5-10). God dwells in His church. That, too, is a great mystery.
We need to raise our vision concerning the church. Jesus is building His church; he is the architect and master builder of the church (Matt 16:18). Jesus is the head of the church (Col 1:18). We are His body (Eph 1:22-23). Through the committed community of followers of Jesus, God is revealing His glory and purposes to rulers and authorities in heavenly places (Eph3:10-11). And, God is preparing the church as the bride for His Son, the Bridegroom King (John 3:27-30; Rev 21:2). Jesus loves the church and gave himself for the church (Eph 5:25). Jesus deserves a healthy body (1 Co 12:12-27) and a beautiful bride who has made herself ready for the Bridegroom King (Rev 19:7;).
Most people who have dropped out of an expression of the local church have lost the vision and love Christ has for His church. Yes, when you plug into a church, God will use the body of Christ to strengthen you and to meet your needs. Yes, when you join a church, God will express gifts and callings in your life to serve in the church and to serve others in the family of God. Yes, when you join a church, God will use that church to equip you and to help you do acts of service within the walls and outside the walls of the church. Yes, when you join a church, you become a part of a family who joins God in His family business on His mission in their spheres of influence and in the whole earth.
And, let’s take the vision of the church one step further. The church does not exist primarily for us but for God. At the revelation of Jesus, the elders “sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth’” (Rev 5:9-10). We belong to God by right of creation and by blood—the sacrifice Jesus paid to purchase us for God and to bring us back to God as kings and priests to serve our God.
Why do you need to plug into a local church? Why do you need to plug back into a church if you are a dropout?
I think these questions have the cart before the horse. The better questions to consider might be: What is God’s vision for my life as a temple of the Holy Spirit and as a living stone in the corporate temple of God expressed in a local church? Since Jesus is Lord and Christ, what is His vision for me in a local church, a committed community of followers of Jesus? Since the church is God’s idea, what local expression of the church is God putting me into by His choice and leadership (1 Co 12:18)?
If you are looking for a perfect church, it doesn’t exist. But you can find a church of committed followers of Jesus who are growing in their capacity to love and serve like Jesus. You can find a local church where people can help you experience God’s healing for the wounds and hurts of the past, both from inside and outside the walls of the church. And, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you can find a local church that embodies the love of Jesus—choosing to love that which is broken, which includes you, me, and others. May the Holy Spirit help you to find the place where God is putting you for His glory and His purposes and for your flourishing. In the name of Jesus.
Pastor Jeff McGee
Calvary Community Church