Something that I have noticed in recent years is a tendency for Christians to ‘give up’ on church. Sometimes this is a reaction to institutionalism. Sometimes due to life’s busyness. Sometimes it may be seen to have little to do with daily life. In the following posts I wish to offer 4 reasons why the church is still relevant for all followers of Christ.
1. God as the Trinity is communal in nature.
As Christians we believe that God is triune in nature (that is, one God yet three ‘persons’ – Father, Son and Holy Spirit) enjoying perfect community. The Scriptures give justification for this view.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. – John 1:1-2
Here as John refers to Jesus as being ‘the Word’ he is making a clear claim of the divinity of Jesus and a oneness with the Father.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17
At his baptism, there is junction between the Godhead which makes clear that there is a perfect communal relationship existing.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me – John 14:9c-11a
In making this statement Jesus is claiming an intimate relationship with the Father and calling his disciples to do likewise.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. – John 14:16-20
What does this all mean?
As the passages have shown, there is an explicit notion that God is triune and that he is dwelling in holy community. There is also an invitation for followers of Jesus to enter into this community through the Holy Spirit. This aspect of being invited into community is something Christians should take seriously. It is both something which we are made for and commanded to do.
Firstly, as those created ‘in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27) we are created for community. The ultimate expression of community is seen in the church as it shares relationships with fellow believers and the living God.
Secondly, the community of the church is something that we are called to as ‘members of one body’ (Colossians 3:15-17) and reflected by the number of ‘one another’ instructions in the New Testament.
When the Christian church takes its communal identity seriously it is able to show those around it what God looks like (i.e. at peace within community). This also allows fellow believers to actively engage with each other’s Christian walk and in turn continue to show the ministry of Jesus.