Before he died on the cross to pay for the sins of humanity, Jesus promised that he would build his church (Matt.16:18). He is currently doing just that, and the building of his church is the most important project in the entire universe. So, let’s talk about the church. Using an acrostic, let’s try to describe the church.
CHRIST-CENTERED—The first “C” in church might stand for Christ-centered. Jesus bought the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28), so he is the rightful owner. He is the head of the church (Eph.4:15), so he has the authority to tell the parts of the body of Christ what to do. Sadly, congregations often become more like social clubs than true churches. They exist to satisfy the desires of the members rather than to obey the commands of Jesus. Any church that is serious about fulfilling its purpose will always strive to keep their focus on Jesus (Heb.12:1-3).
HOLY—The first “H” in church can remind us that we are called to be holy. “Holy” does not mean perfect; it means that we are set apart for God’s purposes. Christians do not look like the unholy people of the world in which we live. We are distinctive from them in the way that we think, speak and act. The congregation that does not take the holiness of its members seriously is headed down a dangerous path. A church cannot wink at sin and expect to enjoy the blessings of God. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”
UNITED—For our purposes here, the “U” stands for united. Jesus prayed in John 17 that his followers would be united so that they could be a good witness to the world. The book of 1 Corinthians is filled with pleas for unity. Eph.4:1-16 is another text that calls for the church to be united in the same way that the parts of the human body work together as each part does its work. Causing division in the church is a terrible sin (1 Cor.3:17), therefore divisive people must be confronted (Titus 3:10-11).
REACHING OUT—The “R” in church can serve to remind us of our mission to reach out to people who need to come to Jesus for salvation. The gospels of Matthew and Mark both end with what we call the “Great Commission” to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey the commands of Jesus. Any congregation that neglects to reach out to the lost is doomed to die a slow and agonizing death.
COMPASSIONATE—Let’s say that the second “C” in church stands for compassion. Since we are the children of a loving heavenly Father, his love must be manifested in our lives. The greatest commandments according to Jesus are to love God and love people (Matt.22:34-40). As Christians, we are especially called to love one another with a Christ-like love that shows others that we truly are disciples of Jesus (John 13:34-35). And let us be reminded that true love is far more than feelings of sentimentality. Love is an action verb that often requires sacrifice on our part. Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13).
HEAVEN-BOUND—The second “H” in church can remind us of our eternal destination. Our citizenship is not of this world. This painful, sinful world is not our final destiny. Jesus has prepared a place for us where we can live in the presence of God forever (John 14:1-6). Rev.21:3-4 says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” What a wonderful promise of Scripture! But until that promise is fulfilled, let us constantly be about the business of doing our best to see that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, and that his church becomes more and more like the church he has designed us to be.