Why the Church is Essential to God’s Plan for Humanity

The church is more important than is generally understood, even by church members. It is crucial to the future, for it lies at the center of God’s plan for humanity. Without the church, the world could never be right, and individual lives would always be incomplete.

Doubts on this matter are understandable. “The church? It is enamored with political power. Its people mess up as much as anyone else. They can’t get along. They can be revoltingly self-righteous.”

No one denies these criticisms – not even Jesus. He once rebuked a church for being lukewarm and told them bluntly that they were wretched and pitiful. St. Paul accused one of his churches of worldliness because they were filled with jealousy and quarreling. He told another church that he feared he had wasted his efforts on them. The church is not and has never been the home base for those who have it all together.

If that is true, why even bother with the church? Because there is a power at work in the church that comes from outside the church and is capable of transformative change. Because the church is integral to God’s restoration plan for the world. Because the church is in contact with a life outside the range of ordinary human experience: God’s own life, which He shares with people through His Spirit.

It is necessary to state that this is only true of the church as it is biblically, not culturally, defined. Just because a building has a sign on its front lawn that says “church” does not make it, or the people in it, a church. It may have a pastor with the title “Reverend” before their name, a 5013(c) (3) tax status, and hold religious services, but none of that makes it a church.

A group of people is only a church when they confess Jesus Christ as Lord and share God’s life between them. When a church gathers, God is present in a way He is not present when the Kiwanis gather, Congress convenes, or the university’s religion department holds a conference.

The church comprises individuals who have been brought to God through the instrumentality of Christ and are connected to God and each other through one Spirit. They form a kind of network, sharing a distinctive type of life. That means a person can attend a church meeting yet not be part of the church because they are not on the network. They lack that distinctive kind of life.

Without this life, a person cannot reach their potential; doing so requires both kinds of life, biological and (for lack of a better word) spiritual. Think of a balloon that is made of the finest rubber. It is dyed the most beautiful color. It is a perfect balloon, yet it only reaches its potential when the magician fills it with air and shapes it into a flower or a bunny.

We have biological life. Perhaps we are healthy, strong, and intelligent. But unless the Divine Magician breathes spiritual life into us and shapes us into something beautiful, we live beneath our potential. Without God, we cannot experience the richness of human life as the Creator intended.

This illustration, like all illustrations, cannot be pressed. God is not a Magician. He doesn’t do tricks; he performs miracles. He shapes us into something that is both beautiful and valuable. He does not breathe his divine life into us to leave us isolated but to combine us with others: not a lone flower but a bouquet; not a piston, but an engine; not a soldier, but an army. That bouquet, that engine, that army is the church of Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians, St. Paul describes the church as the “new humanity” powered by love, not fear. It is the nexus linking the creator with his beloved creation and is a principal instrument of God’s activity on earth.


About salooper57

Husband, father, pastor, follower. I am a disciple of Jesus, learning how to do life from him. I read, write, walk, play a little guitar, enjoy my family.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church, Theology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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