Monday, October 27, 2008

The Church is Bigger Than You Think II: Jesus is the Church

“[W]here Jesus is, there is the Church; the Church as the assembly of those who are finding their relationships, their lives transfigured by the presence of Jesus. Church is the event of Jesus’ presence with its effect of gathering people around him and making them see one another differently as they see Him. The church is the immediate affect of Jesus. And hence St Paul can write about the new creation which happens when people are drawn into fellowship, drawn into relationship with the risen Jesus and encourages us therefore to think that the church itself is the beginning of the new creation.

It is not an institution designed to further a programme, not an association of people who happen to have the same ideas, but the beginning of God’s reclaiming of the territory of human life and not just human life either, God’s reclaiming of creation as his own and God pouring into creation of his saving and transfiguring power so that the world, human and non human will once again show radiantly who and what he is as God…The church is what happens when Jesus is there, there received and recognised.

- Rowan Williams, keynote address Mission Shaped Church Conference, June 2004.

Jesus in himself constitutes the church. Church is not what we do. It is where Jesus is present. Not that he is bodily present with us. However, Jesus is present with us now both Verbally and Spiritually:

"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1.13-14. See also the 'in Christ' language in 1.3-12 and 2.12-16.

Jesus Christ is the Church - made present through the Word and Spirit. It is in him that we find our identity as the church: chosen in Christ, adopted God's children through Christ, redemption through his blood, knowledge of the mystery of God's will (for Jews and Gentiles), and obtaining an inheritance. So that in Jesus the church (the covenantal family of Jews and Gentiles) is now one new humanity. We are one body, with many parts, but connected to the one whole, which is the body of Christ.

Our church assembly is important. But we are all connected to each other and united together in Christ by faith. And where is, there is the church.

Part I

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