the weblog of Alan Knox

How does God view the church in your city?

Posted by on Aug 31, 2007 in blog links, definition, unity | 5 comments

Paul writes to the church in Corinth, the church in Philippi, the church in Thessalonica, the church in Colossae, and the church in Ephesus. Luke writes about the church in Jerusalem and the church in Antioch as well as the church in several cities scattered around the Roman Empire.

Today, is there still a church in your city, or are there multiple churches in your city? How do you view the church in your city? How does God view the church in your city? Do you think their should be unity among the church in your city? Does God? Are you working to maintain the unity that you have in Christ with others in the church in your city? Or should you not work to maintain the unity of the church in your city because God doesn’t expect that kind of unity?

Well, Jon has written a post that comes very close to describing what I see in the New Testament. The post is called “Being the church in ……” The post is related specifically to being the church in Stevenage in the UK, but I think it applies to every city. I’m not sure when Jon wrote this post. I came across it recently because of the prayer synchroblog in which we both took part.

The entire post is very good. Jon explains the implications of recognizing that all believers in a particular location are part of the same body. For example, consider this paragraph:

Although there are weaknesses in this picture it does illustrate a remarkable truth. The unity of the church is in Jesus. Unity is not about all being in one place and being able to enjoy in a common style of corporate worship expression. Rather, unity can only come from the fact that we are in Jesus. When [we] try and find unity through corporate worship styles or common theology we may find some agreement but we never find unity, in fact in focusing on these things we merely take the focus away from the one who is our unity.

This is an important concept that is often lost to us. Our unity is in Jesus Christ. We do not find unity in our theologies, or our covenants, or our denominations, or our leadership. Unity is only found in Jesus Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit who indwells each of God’s children. It is only through this shared bond (fellowship) of the Holy Spirit that we can find unity. We might find agreement with those who are like us, but this is not the unity in which God has called us to walk. In fact, this type of agreement (that is, agreement with those who are like us) only emphasizes the fact that we are not walking in unity with other brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not the kind of unity that we can build. Instead, it is a unity that is already created in Christ Jesus. Instead of trying to build unity, we are to walk in the unity that God has already provided through his son, Jesus Christ. We can only walk in that unity through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, when Scripture talks about believers being united with one another, I do not think this is a nebulous, spiritual, eternal unity only. It must be a present reality in the lives of each believers. Why? Because John wrote that the world would see this unity, and because of this unity they would recognize that God sent Jesus into the world (John 17:20-23). Thus, our unity must be something that can be seen, especially by those outside the church.

So, once again, how do you view the church in your city? How does God view the church in your city?


5 Comments

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  1. 9-1-2007

    The post says: So, once again, how do you view the church in your city? How does God view the church in your city?

    ————————————-

    The church I go to NOW in my town is pretty cool. I think they are making an effort to promote unity by creating a comfortable, loving environment for people of all backgrounds to worship. The church services occur in a local movie theatre, which is also kind of cool. The people of the church also seem to be making an effort to create and support various kinds of ministries both locally and globally. The people are all so different, but have one thing in common…..a love of Christ.

    I think God is very pleased with this church and there are definite signs of God’s presence and work throught the people attending and leading.

    I still think there is work to be done on the rest of the churches in the area. It is very rural area that hold on strongly to tradition, organization, denomination, etc. I think they are all afraid of becoming liberal, which is pretty much looked on as the cardinal sin in these parts.

  2. 9-2-2007

    Alan,

    If Paul were to write a letter to my town(pop. 45,000 +/-) there would be approximately 80-90 institutions checking their mail every day waiting for it and expecting it to come to them only. (That is an institution for about every 500 people.)

    On a side note: this is in small town America. Imagine if their was unity in Jesus between all institutions or they even just simply practiced pure religion. There shouldn’t be a poor, starving, homeless, person in America – possibly the world.

    Back to reality. I would view the church in my city as all Spirit filled, Spirit led, brothers and sisters in Christ. You can find them in all different institutions AND outside of them. Jesus knows who they are. I think we should be able to recognize them too if we saw them.

    Jeff

  3. 9-2-2007

    Revolutionary1,

    It is great to hear about churches that are reaching across traditional boundaries to demonstrate the unity that we have in Christ. There is always work to be done – as you said – but there is also always hope in Christ.

    Jeff,

    You said that the believers in your area would expect Paul’s letter to come to them only. I think you are correct about a majority of “churches”. And, I think this demonstrates not only our lack of unity, but our pride.

    -Alan

  4. 9-2-2007

    Alan,

    I think you and Jon are both on target here.

    And, to cross-comment from your 21st Century Church post, it is my hope and dream (along with the other things Dave Black mentions) that one of the big developments for the church of the 21st century will be a much greater recognition of the “city church” as you and Jon describe it here.

  5. 9-2-2007

    David,

    Yes, absolutely! Thank you for connecting these two posts.

    -Alan