In Matthew 16:18 we have the first use of the word ‘Church’ in the context of a discussion between Jesus Christ and the twelve. Jesus asks them who the people say that He is, and after various answers Christ asks them who THEY thought he was. Peter pipes up and says that he is “”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” in verse 16. Jesus responds that it is upon this truth that He will build His church. As the rest of the gospel unfolds we see more and more references to this concept of “church”. A few chapters later Jesus gives us a lecture on how to keep order in the church (Matt 18) and then after Christ is resurrected, we see the beginning of the church as we have come to see it.
The whole concept of ‘church’ comes from the Greek root words which mean “called out” or “called forth”.¹ As I have thought about this for the last week or so, I find it very interesting that this is the same idea (different language) that God uses when he calls Abram out of the land of Ur in Genesis 12 and says that He “will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Later in the Pentateuch as the nation of Israel as taking possession of the Land of Canaan they are called to be different then the nations that they are dispossessing.
Anyway, that’s a side note. What I am getting at here is that we as Christians are not the first ones to be called out from the nations to be dedicated to God. Which seems to offer a point to the dispensationalists, but that is an argument for some other time. We are interested here to see that God has chosen us very directly to belong to Him and in so doing to live our lives in sharp contrast to the world that we live in. The nation of Israel did almost everything differently then the nations around them. They didn’t eat certain kinds of meat, they didn’t dress like everyone else, they didn’t worship as everyone else did. They were different, and very noticeably so.
I hope by this point you are beginning to see how different those who are called out by God are supposed to be. We are called to not fit in, to be seen as an anomaly, or unusual. Not in the sense that we cannot fit into our enviroment, but that in how we live, we are not like the world around us.
The key to this was highlighted to me recently by Pastor Todd in a sermon as we are working through a series Sunday mornings titled “Life Together”. He mentions that the church should be known for our sacrifice. Romans 12 starts right off by saying that we are to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” We are to present ourselves as sacrifices, giving up our own will and desires to the will of God. Not so easy in practice as it is to write. But because God commands us to live that way, it IS possible.
1.) Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for ‘Church’ in the ESV”. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 16 Jan 2011. <http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/translationResults.cfm?Criteria=Church&t=ESV >