In the introductory post of this series, I explained that I was going to examine necessary ingredients for a group of people to become a church community as described by the authors of Scriptures. In the second post, I said that the first necessary ingredient is Jesus, not facts about Jesus, but the real, living, empowering person Jesus.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Alan, you’ve already written a post about how Jesus is the first and most important ingredient for a group of people to become a church community as described in the New Testament. So, why is this post called ‘Only Jesus’?”
No, I haven’t lost my mind, and I didn’t forget that my previous post was about Jesus. But, in order for the church to become community (as described in Scripture), Jesus must not only be the most important ingredient, he must be the only community ingredient.
Almost every church that has ever existed would agree with my previous post and the point that Jesus must be the most important aspect of that church’s community. They would agree that all of the believers who are part of that church must have Jesus in common.
However, this post could cause problems. Why? Because most churches are not willing to stop at Jesus being the center of their community. Instead, they will add something else, such that they require Jesus and something else. That “something else” might be a statement of faith (creed/confession), or a certain meeting location, or a leader or group of leaders, or local church membership, or anything else around which a group of people might gather.
The authors of Scripture make it clear that we are to join together in Jesus Christ alone. He is the head of the church; nothing else comes close. He is the life of the church; nothing else comes close. He holds the church together; nothing else comes close.
I think Paul says it best when he told the Romans, “Whoever serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men” (Romans 14:18) and “Therefore accept one another as Christ has accepted you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) If someone is accepted by God, then we are to accept that person as a brother or sister in Christ.
If we require anything else, then we are placing man-made requirements above the requirements of God.
Jesus Christ is the first and most important ingredient in order for a group of people to become a church community as described in Scripture. And, on top of this, Jesus Christ must be the only ingredient necessary for the group in order for that group to grow into a community.