Lent – Day 31: Wednesday, 24 March
1 Corinthians 13:12-14
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 And so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
The Church is Christ Jesus to the world. It is not God’s plan that Jesus is still working in this world except through his Church. By Church I mean any group of Christians who come together for worship and prayer. Many of the letters written by Paul are to individual churches, as is this letter.
Over time the church ended up as a monolithic structure, with lines of authority and hierarchies. It didn’t last in that shape. There have been splits and breakaway groups. A disagreement about the position of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity caused the division (schism) between Rome and Constantinople, creating the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Luther wrote and preached against the excesses of the Roman church, and Protestantism (“we protest”) was born. The Church of England was established by a manipulative king. The derogatory name “Methodist” was given to a new body springing up in the Church of England. We’ve seen churches grouping under various banners, such as Forward in Faith, The Evangelical Alliance, and others. Some groups arise because people sense a new move of God that their denomination rejects. Sometimes it’s the other way round.
Division, for whatever good and noble reason, is a cause for sorrow to the heart of God.
With such disagreements over theology, interpretation, established structures and authority it can be difficult for us, and nigh impossible for the outside world, to see ourselves as one. While theologians wrangle, the Gospel loses its integrity.
What makes for an effective church?
How big does it need to be?
Does your church mirror verse 13 above?
Father God, you have given to your Son ownership and authority over the Church. Lord Jesus, we look to you as head, and pray that you build us up to be a fit Bride. Amen.
Observe verse 2 in the hymn below, and ask God how this may happen