This week, I’m publishing a few posts on “The Church” which explain the basis of my ecclesiology. In the first post, I said that our understanding of the church must begin with God. (see “The Church: It All Begins with God“) In the second post, I continue from that first point by concluding that our relationship with God and with one another is dependent upon God’s re-creative work, not any work of our own. (see “The Church: God’s Children and God’s Family“)
The way we act is defined by who we are. We are God’s children and God’s family, and thus we act as if God is our father. In the Gospels, we see Jesus giving us example after example of what it means to live as God’s children. Since we have been re-created, we have the opportunity and the ability to live as God’s children.
God loves. As his children, then, we also love. We go because God goes and sends. We care because God cares. We give because God gives. We serve because God serves.
When we love, serve, teach, care, etc., we do so because we are God’s children and we have been re-created to imitate our father. We do not become God’s children because we do these things, but we do these things because we are God’s children.
Similarly, we do not do these things (and other things) because we are the church. We are God’s children, and we do these things in demonstration of his character. The character of the family should be a demonstration of the character of the father.
Again, while this may seem obvious, we sometimes delegate this to a side story. If someone goes to another part of the world, they do not go because they are part of the church and the church sent them. They go because God’s cares about the people of that part of the world, and because God has sent them. If someone chooses to take care of a homeless person, they do not do so because the church has a homeless outreach, but because God cares for this person and their concern is a direct reflection of the father’s love.
Finally, this brings us to gathering together. As a family, we gather together. This does not make us family. Instead, gathering together is a demonstration that we are family. We love one another and desire to spend time with one another. That will be the topic for my next post in this series.