"The Church - A Living Organism"
Allow me to suggest a truth most believers know and understand, but which we nevertheless do well to directly consider on a regular basis.
"Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house" (I Corinthians 16:19).
Note the delineation between the "church" and the location where Aquila, Priscilla, and the fellow believers of their locale met. The church was not the place, program, or protocol of these brothers and sisters of old, but rather the people, or more importantly, the Lord and His people. "He is the Head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). This was especially the case in the early centuries of Christendom, when due to censure and persecution, believers could not openly meet in public locations or structures. Christians of old thus had a better understanding of the definition of "ekklesia," the Greek root word of church, which means "called out." Again, this refers to Lord Jesus who calls, and believers to whom the Apostle Paul refers to as "the called of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:6). This living and personal union of the Savior and the saints constitutes "the church."
Please do not interpret this as criticism of referring to locations, structures, and organizations as church. We all use the language of "going to church," and again, I am confident most people understand we are not being Scripturally literal when we use the term. Christ and His people - this is the church in the heart and mind of God, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me" (Hebrews 2:13). The aforementioned places, programs, and protocols are tools used by the church in many different modes and measures. Moreover, they are necessary implements, as the Lord establishes and directs. But they are not literally the church. Indeed, ekklesia primarily denotes a living spiritual organism, as opposed to a structured organization. The risen Christ, dwelling with and within His spiritually enlivened spiritual body - this is the church.
We do well to remember and affirm this truth of the organism, while appreciating and participating in the organization. The stark truth of the matter is that we could lose the latter, which has often happened in the last 2,000 years, but the former remains. The Head of the church said it plainly: "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Thus, as with Aquila and Priscilla, we appreciate the "house," while always remembering and emphasizing "the church" that meets there. We also rejoice in how little - or perhaps, how much - is actually required for the church in its most literal form to function. Wherever the Lord and His people are united in His love, be it few or many, be it formal or informal, there you have the church in its blessed and Christ-exalting essence. And nothing shall prevail against it.
"God… hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."
(Ephesians 1:17; 22-23)
Weekly Memory Verse
"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward another, and toward all."
(I Thessalonians 3:12)