Wednesday, 9 September 2009

FORUM '09: Unity in the Church

Going on in my series of blogs proceeding Forum, again it is my hope that this might encourage fellow Christians or help non-believers understand a bit more about the Christian faith and what Christianity teaches.

During the week, Terry Virgo took the morning Bible studies talking on a variety of things from the beginning of Ephesians. Ephesians was a letter from Paul to the new Christians in Ephesus (which is an amazing place which I have been fortunate enough to visit in my life, well worth it if you are ever in Turkey!) and talks a lot about the Church, not the church in which some of these followers would meet but the Kingdom which God was building on Earth. A good illustration of this is that of a car factory (however not made of cake...):
The Church (as in God's Kingdom) is like a car being built by workers in a car factory. The factory acts as this world and the workers represents the history of mankind: as mankind moves on and on in history it continues to build and mould the Church until, when it is ready and at its full potential, it will come out of the world (or the factory) fully completed.
Now, before we can join the church, we must first realise why we need to: we are dead to our sins (Ephesians 2:1). The sins, which we are dead to (spiritually dead that is), can pretty much be summed up into three enemies:
  • the world (Ephesians 2:2) - 'walking in the ways of the world' adds to the longing we have to be accepted and can dictate the way we live our lives
  • Satan (Ephesians 2:2) - Satan is the 'ruler of the kingdom of the air' or sometimes put as 'the prince of the power of the air' and has the power to push us on in sin
  • the flesh (Ephesians 2:3) - craving what our sinful nature wants, following the flesh ultimately means independance from God

This is how we were, counted as 'in Adam', but if we are 'in Christ' we can become the branches to His vine (John 15:5), the body to his head (Ephesians 5:23) and be raised, with Him, into a regenerated life, born again, made a new creation (Colossians 2:12). We can be added to the number (Acts 2:41) of Christians in the family of God (we can all called God our Father), in the Kingdom of God on Earth, all united in Christ, no matter who we are (Galatians 3:28) in a unity stronger than all others. This is the way that God has planned to show his manifold wisdom (manifold lliterally means a variety of colours; God's manifold wisdom stretches far in a wide variety of ways and forms) would be known to all. We can be a part of that, all encompassing plan!

Another big reason for us to be unified as one in Christ is so that we can do what we were called to do (Ephesians 4:1): continue to build up this kingdom, or in plainer terms, evangelise (this word actually comes from the Greek 'for proclaiming good news'). This will never work unless we are unified and we can't be unified unless:

  • we are humble and unified in love (Ephesians 4:2)
  • we bear with one another: forgiving (as we have been forgiven), humble and patientLink (Ephesians 4:2)
  • we make every effort to stay unified (Ephesians 4:3)
  • use the diverse gifts that we are all given, by grace, by God (Ephesians 4:11)

As the body of the church, we need to play our diverse parts (just as the parts of a human body would) to attain to unity together.

Just to finish, another way to look at the Church is to see it as God's current presence on Earth. To begin with (in Old Testament times), God's presence was kept deep inside the tabernacle and eventually deep inside the Temple in Jerusalem, only available to high priests. Next (Gospel times), God came to Earth, in the form of Jesus, to give example, to teach and to ultimately give a rescue plan to all (the 'temple' being torn down in crucifixtion and rasied again after three days in resurrection). After that (New Testament to today), God has sent the Holy Spirit into His Church on Earth, those in the Church acting as the stones to rebuild a spiritual temple of God. We have been called to continue to build this temple on earth and must be united to do that.

I hope this has been helpful, encouraging or inspirational, if you have any questions, please do ask either over comment or at joel_murray@hotmail.co.uk.