The Church is the people of God. The Church is called out to bear visible witness to the free gift of grace we have received through Jesus Christ (Beth Jones).
Our individualistic and gnostic society has convinced the [Western] Church that we are an invisible force. But we are not invisible. We are a witness; living witness that others can see. We live and move and have our being in this world…just like Jesus. He told His disciples that He would not take them out of this world. Instead, He would give them power to live in the world and bear witness.
The power we have been given is to bear witness to the free gift of grace.
Free. Gift. Grace.
We are not called to be witnesses of all that is bad, evil, critical, and negative. There is plenty of hopelessness in the world already. Instead, we are called to bring attention to hope, grace, and love. Jesus broke the rules of His day when He extended grace to everyone. We are witnesses of the same grace and hope.
In the same way that we are witnesses, we cannot be witnesses alone. The Church is One. It means the Church is not singular. It is plural. The word “Church” in the New Testament is a plural word, not singular. It more literally means “assembly”. And you cannot assemble by yourself.
So we are one, holy catholic [universal] and apostolic Church. Jesus prayed that the Church would be one as He and the Father are one. Our power and identity are rooted in our oneness; our unity. The New Testament uses this example: the hand cannot say to the rest of the body, “I don’t need you”. No, apart from the rest of the body, there is no power. Even worse, no life.
The same is true for us. Apart from the rest of the Church, we have no power and no life. No transformed life. You can know God and you can pray. You can even sense His presence. But it is only when we are united with the rest of the body (the Church) that we experience lasting power and transformation of our soul. We need to irritate one another and bump up against each other to round out our rough edges. We need to see ourselves reflected in the eyes of the rest of the Church to see where we need more grace. We simply need one another.
It’s true that we, the Church, are broken. There is no such thing as a flawless Church. There never has been. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But even in our brokenness, the world needs us. It needs us to show that there is another way.
It needs us to show there is a perfect, heavenly Father that loves them. It needs us to display an alternative to the ugliness of the world by displaying beauty. It needs us to offer an alternative to racism by including all people. It needs us to counter loneliness by inviting them to the table. And it needs to negate the lies of the world with the truth of God’s sustaining grace.
This Easter, I hope you will embrace the reality of the Resurrection by embracing the reality of the Church. Find a group of Believers to do life with. You can meet in a house. You can meet in a coffee shop. You can meet in a building with a cross hanging on it. But please, gather with the people of God and be the Church. Be a visible witness of all that is good and holy for the glory of God!
He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!