Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. (1 Peter 2:10)
Trying to change our mindset about things can be difficult. Think of how people must have felt when they discovered that the earth was not flat, or that people could fly, or that pictures could be transmitted through the air. Such things are hard to get your mind around at first! And that’s how it is for many people with ‘the church’. For many, the church is a building. But God wants us to change our mindset; for the church is not about buildings but about people.
There are many different pictures of the church in the New Testament, each of them emphasizing a particular aspect of what it means to be God’s people. Some speak of the corporate nature of the church (such as family, building, people, flock, and nation); some speak of the church’s role (such as army, temple and priesthood); some speak of the church’s fruitfulness (such as field and branches); some speak of the church’s need to stay closely linked to Jesus (such as vine and body). But all these pictures have one thing in common: they are all corporate or demand corporate response. It is impossible for just one person to be them!
God’s plan and promise is for us to know Him together as His church. The New Testament has no concept of "go-it-alone" Christians, reflected in the fact that the word ‘saint’ (a synonym for "Christian") is always in the plural (and even the one apparent singular usage in the KJV is corporate: "Salute every saint in Christ Jesus," Philippians 4:21, KJV). In the words of Michael Griffiths, "The concept of a solitary saint is foreign to the New Testament writers." Being a Christian is, quite simply, about being a part.
So, don’t feel you are on your own today (though the devil often tries to get us to think we are). If you are a Christian, then you are a part – part of God’s wonderful people, with all the promises that this people receive. Don’t stay isolated; be ‘a part’!
"I will be their God and they will be my people." (Jeremiah 31:33)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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