Foundations Part 2
We can't attend church - we are the church!
In the Bible, the word 'Church' is a translation of the greek word 'ekklesia' which is about people - the called out ones. It suggests a community of people rather than a group of individuals. God has called us out from living in the 'darkness' of not knowing him into the 'light' of a living relationship with him.
We are no longer strangers - we are part of the family of God.
We are the Church.
"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."
The Bible teaches that you and I are the church and Jesus is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). It tells us that God placed all things under Jesus' feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, represents the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. This means that it is through you and your life that He speaks, acts, and brings His presence!
"When a house has a family it becomes a home..."
The church is the hope of the world, it is what God is using to bring lost people back to relationship with God.
The Bible describes the church as a House or Home (Ephesians 2:19-22) reminding us that we are family and encouraging us to love and support one another. In doing so, we are showing the world who Jesus is and making him known to those who do not yet know him.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
They were together.
"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
"Those planted in the house will flourish."
It is God's will for you and I to flourish in life as we plant ourselves in the local church.
To be planted in the House of God is to source our 'nutrients' for life from the church and to have a sense of belonging.
"Remain in me and I will remain in you."
The key to having God remain in you is to decide to remain in him and remain in what God is all about. In other words, stay connected to the source of life.
Why gather together as the church?
1. We develop the character of Jesus through being with one another.
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
We learn humility, gentleness and patience, developing the character of Christ as we relate within the body of Christ.
2. We get to use our gifts to serve one another.
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 (NIV)
We will discover and realise our purpose when we play our part in the body of Christ. We miss out on the gifts of our "family members," if we choose not to be a part of a local church.
3. Protection & Blessings
Our leaders offer spiritual protection and direction.
"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder ... Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock."
1 Peter 5:1-4 (NIV)
"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."
Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)
God has placed us into the body of Christ for our own protection and blessing. Just like every earthly family, it's not always easy - we don't always find it easy to get along with everyone! But there are so many good things that we will never experience unless we are relationally connected with others in the body of Christ.
4. Jesus went to Church.
Jesus loved going to church and made a habit of it - in Luke 4:16 the Bible tells us that "He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read". He recognised the benefits of being in church and amongst other believers.
For Christians, communion an act of worship that celebrates Jesus. Jesus said it is important for us to practice Communion as a way to remember him and his sacrificial death. When we eat the bread we remember Jesus' body; His body was broken so ours doesn't have to be. There's also an emphasis on our attitude towards each other as we remember that we are all part of the church - the body of Christ. When we drink the wine, we remember Jesus’ body; His blood was spilt so we could live under the new covenant of grace.
There are many benefits to taking communion including;
Remember. It helps us to remember and express gratitude for the death of Jesus Christ, the saving work on the cross and the future hope that we have through his resurrection and coming Kingdom.
Receive. It enables us to receive strength, nourishment and empowerment from Christ as we fix our heart and mind on Jesus and the work of the cross.
Reaffirm. It reaffirms our commitment to Christ.
Relationship. It highlights the communion of believers with Christ himself and with each other.
"After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."