These past months I have been working with our Confirmands in preparation for Easter Sunday when they will join the church. Among the things they must do in order to become a full confessing member of the Body of Christ: they have to write their own faith statement. Sounds scary I know.
I keep trying to tell them not to panic. Not sure if that’s working or not. And that I am here to help. I have given them resources. I have even given them a list of topics they should probably cover (you know the basics like the members of the Trinity, how God relates to us, how we relate to one another, etc.).
Among those topics is one that is often over overlooked: the Church. We can easily underestimate just how central the Body of Christ on earth really is, can’t we?
Especially now, after two years of a pandemic that has forced us to rethink what it looks like, often required us to engage in worship from a far, we ask ourselves: what is the Church of Jesus Christ?
Is it a building of wood and stone?
Is it an organization that says this is what you must believe to belong?
Is it a place you show up every so often because you are supposed to?
The answer to all of these questions is no. Not really.
The Church of Jesus Christ is the body of believers that have been drawn together by God. Usually they are far more of a band of misfits than most would like to admit. Always they are covered in more grace and more forgiven than any of us can possibly imagine for every single thing we have ever done to break every relationship we have ever had – with God, with others, even with ourselves.
So, then how do we know that a body is Christ’s Body, rather than just a group of friends who happen to show up in random places together?
Well, they will intentionally listen for God’s voice through Scripture and conversation with Scripture. They will seek community together marked by God’s holy signs of water, bread, and wine. They will live life together in ways that will display God’s justice and preserve God’s truth among them.
More than anything, though, you will always recognize this Body by their love. A love that is radical and reckless. Giving of itself in every way. Open and welcoming. Profound and profligate. Deep and fathomless. Ready to lay down its life to see even one more person find the life they are meant to have in God’s kingdom.
That is the true mark of the Church, Christ’s Body in this world.