A Case of Mistaken Identity – 6

Here we are at the sixth in a series of articles on the church—the community of Christ’s followers. This series was prompted because so many Christians are confused about the church, its relevance to their lives and God’s purpose for them through the church. Let’s consider the vision and mission of the church that Christ left with His disciples.

When Jesus called His disciples (followers), He called them not only into fellowship with Himself but into community with each other. Jesus’ pattern in this regard is unmistakable! In fact, Jesus maintains that our unity in Him and love for one another provide the basis for our witness to a lost world (John 13:35; 17:22-23).

After Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given, new followers of Christ immediately became part of the local church, the body of Christ. This was the New Testament pattern. In Acts, Luke uses the terms, “believers,” “disciples,” and “church” interchangeably. Christ-followers were and are the church. The two cannot logically be divorced. The one defines the other.

When Paul, Barnabas, Silas and other followers of Christ began spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the far reaches of the ancient world, they always gathered the new followers of Christ into local churches—always! Acts 14:21-23 outlines Paul and Barnabas’ evangelistic strategy. Their strategy included: 1) preaching the good news and winning disciples to Christ; 2) strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith; 3) appointing elders for them in each church; and, 4) with prayer and fasting, committing them to the Lord in whom they had put their trust. 

The local church was and always has been a key element in fulfilling the Great Commission. Jesus has not established any other convention besides the church for the fellowship, participation, sharing of spiritual gifts, evangelism, and building up of believers. One who removes him/herself from the church cannot possibly be following the Head of the church, Christ.

We see that those who leave the church must not have realized what they were doing or who it is they are abandoning. Again, this is a case of mistaken identity.

©2010 Rob Fischer