Belonging To God: The Church

An Important Note To Students And Teachers

For decades, and in some instances for centuries, there has been a separation (whether partial or complete) that looks upon “the church” as an institution and “the individual” as devoted to Jesus Christ. The consequences of this view are numerous and spiritually devastating to Christian commitment. (a) Sometimes this view leads people to think/conclude that there are different spiritual values/criteria for “the church” and “the Christian individual.” (b) Sometimes “the church” is seen as expressing “formal ritual” that has little to do with reality and “the individual” as serving people as he [she] deals with the realities of life. (c) Some see “the church” as a non-essential in the present world and godliness in “the individual” as the avenue of godliness. (d) Some declare there is no salvation outside the institution known as “the church,” and some see the institution as totally separated from the issue of salvation. (e) Some see “the church” as being a political organization and “the Christian individual” as being the expression of spirituality. (f) Some see “the church” as being about power, and righteousness being about “the individual.”

As long as “the church” exists in Christian people’s minds as an institution that is in anyway separated from the man and woman who follows Jesus Christ, there will be a separation between “the church” and “the individual.” As long as that separation exists, it will harm Christian fellowship, Christian service, and Christian unity.

This study follows the view presented in Acts—the church is not more or less than the people who belong to Jesus Christ. These people have been called out of the world and into Jesus Christ for two basic reasons: (a) to follow the Jesus God raised from the dead, and (b) to recognize Jesus as Lord until Jesus restores God to the position as the “all in all” (see 1 Corinthians 15:28). Christians, collectively as the church and individually as one saved in Jesus Christ, pursue an identical objective: to encourage the people of our world to adopt and follow God’s values reflected in Jesus Christ as we seek God’s purposes in this world.

This study is not about presenting “official answers” to (at times) difficult questions. Instead, it challenges you to think, to recognize and question your assumptions, and to realize the importance of belonging to God in your life. Do not merely confirm your confidence in the existence of God. Exist to do God’s will, to reach out to those seeking God, and to encourage those in Jesus Christ.

The church is not defined by nor restricted to Sunday and mid-week assemblies. The church exists as long as Christians exist. The church is not a building, a place, or an address. The church is people who belong to Jesus Christ—not more or less. It is like yeast in a ball of dough. It flavors and preserves as did salt in the first-century world. It constructively destroys darkness as does light. It is the embodiment of love, compassion, forgiveness, and fellowship. It merely allows individual Christians to function/act collectively as they seek to encourage each other and pursue God’s will together.

You are invited to pursue this study as you personally seek to walk with God in a closer relationship.

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