Why the Church? With so many social organizations or clubs that we could join, why add one more to the list? Many today think of the church as a nice add-on to life, maybe a place to take their kids, or a place for they themselves to make friends. So, why is it, from the Bible's perspective, do we have the church?
This past Friday, we thought about what it means to be reconciled to God. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 - 21, Paul argues that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (v. 17) and that Jesus was made "to be sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (v.21). In other words, the Bible teaches that the world is in such a bad state now because of sin, that people literally need to become new creations. Paul does not say people simply need to become better or less bad but new! And, the good news is that this is exactly what God has done in Jesus. Shockingly, Paul says Jesus, who knew no sin, was made to be sin, that is that God reckoned sin to Jesus and mysteriously Jesus took the consequences of human sin for those who put their trust in him. And, how exactly was this taking place? Paul says that in Christ, God was not counting trespasses against sinners (v. 19) and also making sinners the righteousness of God (v. 21). This is precisely why Paul implores people to "Be reconciled to God" (v. 20).
From the vantage point of the Bible, the church exists in the world because God has done something incredible for the world through Jesus. Throughout his life, Jesus taught his followers that he was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man could come to the Father except through him (John 14:6). He also said, "I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me" (John 10:14). Ultimately, Jesus showed himself to be the good shepherd he taught about when he himself laid "down his life for his sheep" (John 10:11). Jesus died for the truth he taught. In so doing, he became crucified truth. But, through the resurrection, God vindicated Jesus' life and teaching when he raised Jesus from the dead. It was this resurrection power that made people new creations and gave birth to the church. The church exists for those who have been inexplicably, by God's grace, made new creations, those who have in Christ, become the righteousness of God. The church is the place for sinners who know they are sinners and yet by God's grace are being made more and more pure as new creations.
So, far from being a social club or a simple add on to life, the church is the place where the one who is life is encountered and proclaimed. In God's design, it is the focal point where those who have been ushered into his saving reign live life together in this world. The church is for those who are fighting against sin in order to be made more and more ready for the new creation that Jesus has already entered through his own resurrection. The next time you are tempted to think lowly of the church, remember the one who died and was raised to give birth to it. And, remember it is now the place where those who have come to understand the truth about ourselves and the gracious truth about God can live life together under the saving reign of Jesus in this sinful and broken world.
You can find the sermon "Basic Christianity: Reconciled to God" here.