Read Ephesians 1:22–23
The apostle Paul describes the Church as the Body of Christ.
The word “church” comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which is defined as “an assembly” or “called out ones.” The root meaning of “church” doesn’t pertain to a building but rather to a people. That’s you and me! The apostle Paul as the Body of Christ. This would suggest life and activity.
This concept came alive to me one day when Nick and I were visiting a 200-year-old European cathedral, one of the most majestic every constructed. Though it was beautiful to look at, there was no sign of a living, active Body of Christ. A sign erected for tourists told us that once upon a time, it had been the center of community life. It had served not only as a house of worship but also as the major social justice agency, the main relief organization, and the primary center for medical and aged care. This church had not been limited to the four walls of a cathedral. Quite the opposite, her influence and reach had gone far beyond the confines of the bricks and mortar that constituted her physical structure.
The church had really been the Church in the community and was not just doing church in a building. The congregants had been living from the inside out— not only loving God with all their hearts, souls, and minds but also loving their neighbors as themselves. But where had all those believers gone? Why had the building outlasted the church in this community? Why were people no longer worshiping God in this place? How does something that starts out as a dynamic, living organism—part of the Body of Christ—end up as a dead monument, nothing more than a tourist attraction? And if this church was not a living church, who was actually loving the people who lived in this neighborhood?
I have discovered that a church loses its life and effectiveness at the point it stops being the church that God created her to be and starts going through the motions of doing church. What is true for the individual Christian remains true for the corporate Body of Christ. As long as a local church is actively involved in the lives of those who live in the community, it remains alive, dynamic, vibrant, and healthy. This kind of church—the kind the cathedral once was—is, at its core, what God created it to be.
Have you ever thought of yourself as being a living, breathing part of the Church? You are as long as you are vitally joined with Christ and the members of Christ’s Body.