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What is in a church?
|Created by Gerard de Vos|
Category: Christ related
The church is a god-given institution: Jesus mentioned it in Matthew 16:18: “You are Peter (a little rock), and on this rock (Jesus Christ) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”. Paul mentioned it in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her”.
Some people think that belonging to a church automatically saves one for eternal life. Others think that it is only necessary to attend, sometimes to take part in communion, and then eternal bliss follows. Some think that taking part in all the church activities is necessary for salvation, or that their involvement indicates that they are saved. Many of the above are necessary, but a church is a community of people with a specific function.
Taking the narrative of the Hebrew girl Esther who had to undergo a comprehensive beauty care of 12 months before she could go to the king, we have a typology of what a church is. (Esther 2:12, “Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. And this is how she would go to the king.”) God the Father is gathering a future bride for His Son, Jesus, the Bridegroom and King. In Titus 2 from verse 11 - 14 we read that we are waiting for “the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and purify for Himself a people that are His very own”. Just as Esther was given beauty treatments to prepare her for the king, so we are given beauty treatments to prepare us for the marriage feast (Revelation 19:7,8 - ‘For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints’).
Where do we get the beauty treatments? Do not forget that the saved children of God are part of the bride, so we have to learn to love, respect, and regard others higher than ourselves. That is what the church in very general terms is: our beauty parlor, where we are prepared for that wonderful day. But we must not be confused: this is not only outward ‘religious’ duties. Jesus wants a pure bride, devoid of hatred, jealousy, petty squabbles, et cetera (“Make every effort to live in peace and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord”, Hebrews 12:14). And we must love the brothers (“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God”, 1 John 4:7). If we cannot love each other now in the church, how will we do it for eternity? Loving the fellow church members is part of our training for perfection. So let us remember our ‘beauty’ treatments in the church, getting along with all the different members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12), and with great anticipation look forward to the great marriage feast (Revelation 19:7).
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