“And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”
― 1 CORINTHIANS 3:1 (NRSV)
As we read the Corinthian epistles we get many reminders of the angst in the Apostle Paul, as he wrestles with a rather ungodly and unbecoming church – it’s not that we cannot relate. It speaks to us, too!
What is church for us? Is it mainly to grow in Christ together or merely to be together? Is it a club or church – “church” meaning Christ as the pivot and at the periphery, and all between? A good indication is how much we talk about God, things of faith, the tussles of life in truth, versus the mix of everyday life events – who’s winning the World Series, the swing of political affairs, and what we are doing on the weekend.
The “body” that goes past information, events, and the affairs of the world – that’s the church. They go past these things and go on into the spirituality that divides it all and gets the root of life – where we subsist in God alone.
The “body” that goes beyond pettiness, gossip, small talk, partiality with people, and other small-minded things – that’s the Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ – the Church – is no “club,” with its sense of connection merely of human origins. The Body of Christ is characterised more rather than less in its root – Jesus Christ, the Father, and the Spirit of God indwelling all, by the manifestation that believers can live in truth and love, by Spiritual means.
Members of the Body of Christ meet together, but what separates them from a typical club mentality is the pervasiveness of their connection – faith inculcates their every day and most moments. They share a common love – the Person, Presence and Spirit of Christ Jesus. It is a life-transforming thing; manifestations of growth cannot go unnoticed. There is the centralising feature of repentance about them; God reaches them as individuals and as a corporatist entity and convicts them to turn in love toward their fellows. They would rather worship (do something intrinsically devoted to God) than anything else.
If we have much of the opposite taint about us – that we are “people of the flesh” – then club it is we have and belong to; not the Church. (A church – and its people – criticised for being “too spiritual” or “too worshipful” should remain steadfast – they are the Church. The criticisers ought to take a good look at themselves.)
We must ask ourselves in the sight of God: Lord, what separates our corporate fellowship from that of a worldly club? Church should be the antithesis of club. Club is of the flesh – humanity and things of the world at its centre – but Church is of the Spirit – God foremost and central.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.