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A Case of Mistaken Identity –4

In this fourth blog in the series on the community of Christ-followers let’s consider the identity of the church in more detail. We learn in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that as followers of Jesus, His Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ. Some who have abandoned the community of Christ-followers rationalize that this passage refers only to the universal, unseen body of Christ.

The 1 Corinthians 12:13 passage does apply to the universal church, but it also clearly refers to the local gathering of Christ-followers. In fact, to think of the body of Christ solely in terms of an unseen spiritual truth represents a Gnostic view which attempts to distinguish between spiritual reality and earthly illusion. But the Scripture demonstrates emphatically that God sees our lives as an integrated whole and we need to as well.

There is both the spiritual and earthly reality. In fact, God holds us accountable for how we function within the earthly reality, here and now. The context of 1 Corinthians 12 bears out the fact that the teaching presented there was written to the local church family in Corinth. Can we really presume to extract ourselves from a relationship into which God’s Holy Spirit initiates us?

Along the same line of thinking, consider the fact that many of the New Testament epistles were written to local churches. The letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians and Revelation were all written to local gatherings of Christ-followers. These letters speak to issues unique to each church and their situation.

In 1 Timothy 3:15 we read that the church is God’s household—His family. It’s true that some people abandon their families, but that’s certainly not God’s design for His children and His family! Once again, our tendency to abandon the church must be chalked up to a case of mistaken identity! Surely no one would knowingly forsake God’s family!

©2010 Rob Fischer