The Glory of the Final
The Church is a unique community. It joins people together from previously "unjoinable" backgrounds. It opens up possibilities for fellowship and co-operation all around the world. More commonly it provides care and support for spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs of local believers. We examined the first Church as a community. They shared everything. They lived what Christ had taught.
1. We noted that even in the Old Testament there were some regulations for the community of Israel. Now let's note some of the radical regulations that Christ gave for harmonious community living-
a) Matthew 5:39
b) Matthew 5:40
c) Matthew 5:41
Unity as Never Before
Worldly communities are commonly bounded by locality, common interest, or even nationality. But the Church community is bounded by the most potent "force" in the universe.
2. Note the passage in Ephesians 3:10. What is the remarkable point being noted here? (Note Eph. 2:14-15)
The unity of the Church community is made possible by:
a) The Father- we all have equal access to Him (Eph. 2:18). We are all His children (Matthew 6:6).
b) Jesus Christ- we are all a part of His Body (1Cor. 12:27). He has broken down every wall of division between His people (Eph. 2:13-14).
c) The Holy Spirit- lives in each believer at salvation (Gal. 2:20). Brings us into relationship with the Father (Eph. 2:18).
The Communion Table as the Community's Table
Every time we celebrate the Communion table we are affirming our commitment to the Church community. God requires us to examine ourselves as to whether we are in unity with the rest of the Body of Christ. Thus it says that we need to discern or recognise the Body of Christ (1Cor. 11:29).
A Community of Acceptance
The equalising nature of salvation and the receiving of God's forgiveness leaves us all under the same legal verdict: guilty of sin. Whether we are guilty of lying, laziness, or murder, the verdict is the same. Therefore not one member of the Body of Christ is superior to another.
3. What lesson contained in Christ's parable illustrates this point? (Mat. 18:23-35)
4. In what way does this necessitate the acceptance of people from different backgrounds and lifestyles? (Perhaps refer to 1 Cor. 6:9-11)
It helps to remember that Jesus doesn't wait for us to be "good enough" in order for Him to accept us. When the Pharisees wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery
(John 8:1ff), Jesus didn't condone the woman's sin, but rather accepted her as she was. He later, after showing His genuine love and preparedness to be with her, told her to go and sin no more. We need to learn that love and acceptance comes before judging. This is a principle with God, and should be a principle with His community.
The Definite Aim of the Community
The Church community has been accused of having lofty ideals. More often than not, these ideals have not been realised. One of the observations of history is that where someone has set out to achieve a lot, they have usually ended up achieving very little. And where someone has set out with far less objectives, they have usually ended up achieving more. This is perhaps no where more clear than in the history of the Church. As the first Church set out with just three specific aims, they seemed to achieve a lot. Through the ages as the Church lazily and greedily dabbled in everything from politics to business, education to construction, it almost completely lost its way. The Church has three simple, but definite aims-
Having a definite aim is the first step to achieving any aim. This is illustrated by the true story of two surgeons earlier this century. One surgeon was French, the other was English. The French surgeon had performed a highly specialised operation "a great many times". He was noted for his brilliance in the operating theatre. The English surgeon was far less experienced. He had only performed this new type of operation eight times. When the Frenchman was asked how many people had survived his surgery, he replied "None, but then the operation was so brilliant". The Englishman saved seven out of eight.
5. Which of the aims match these Scripture references?
a) Matthew 28:18-19
b) 1 Thess. 4:3
c) Matt. 20:26
One of the more lofty ideals that the Church has been aiming for is mass salvation. Such terms as "mass evangelism" are associated with this aim. But if we are to be brutally honest we might have to admit that this aim has not been achieved. In other forms of living development, growth takes place in stages. But often we have wanted growth to go from A to Z without passing through the stages of BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWX. By simplifying our aims, we actually reach Z sooner. As a community can we make it our aim to save one person? Can we identify one area in our lives that we are prepared to surrender to God? Can we find some way as individuals and a Church community to serve?
Bible study index
© 2001 Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania