Jesus came to build His church. Why is it important? Why is it valuable to the Christian? Why is the church valuable to the secular world? Why is the church valuable to the Lord?
First of all the church is God’s temple or dwelling place on earth. In the Old Testament the Lord dwelt in the tabernacle of Moses and the temple in Jerusalem. This was the place where the manifest presence of God was amongst His people. This is was what made Israel special. Without the Lord in their midst they would be just like all of the other nations. In the New Testament the church is His dwelling place. He has chosen to make His presence known in the midst of His church. This is one of the blessings of being part of a New Testament Church. The Lord’s presence is available to us when we gather together.
Ephesians 2:19-22, Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
The secular world needs God. They are searching for Him in all the wrong ways, looking for peace and satisfaction but never finding it. The Bible clearly teaches that the rest our soul longs for is found only in the Presence of the Lord. “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.”
Psalms 16:11, This presence is found in the local church. The church of Jesus Christ is where God tabernacles on earth and this is the place we find rest.
In John 15:5, Jesus refers to us as the vine. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.” This relationship describes just how dependent on the Lord we are. As we stay connected to Him, His Life flows into us. This life flow is directly related to our relationship with Christ and our relationship with His church. The life of God flows between us and through us through our relationships with God and His people. The church is vital to this organic and spiritual union. As we cultivate an intimate life with the Lord, and join together with others walking in this intimate lifestyle, we will experience the life flow of the vine. If we abide in Him and he in us we will bear much fruit.
The Lord also refers to His church as the body of Christ. This is another beautiful picture of His church and the life that flows amongst us.
1 Corinthians 12:12, For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
Each one of us is a dynamic part of the body of Christ. Each one of us share a special role, placed exactly in His church as He desires. As we fulfill that role and relate to others who are functioning members of His body, there is a powerful result. First, out needs are met. When we flow with other members of His church enjoying this relationship the gifts and ministries of the Spirit begin to function. The dynamics of the body of Christ are not seen only in large corporate gatherings, but in small groups or casual relationships that we nurture and value. Out of these relationships the body ministers to itself. We are then placed in a position of giving and receiving ministry as Jesus ministers to us and through us in His body.
Jesus also referred to His people as the City on a Hill.
Matthew 5:14, You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
As we function as a healthy church, the world will begin to recognize the life of God working through His people. We live in a dark world. The non-Christian population is longing for something real. They have heard it all and seen it all. Our world is waiting to see real Christianity in action. Jesus told us the world would know the reality of God when they see Christians loving one another. This picture of a city on a hill is a portrayal of His Church, walking in revival, loving God, and loving one another. When that day comes, harvest is at hand.
Finally, the Lord describes His church as the Bride of Christ. This is the greatest portrayal of the Glory of God of all. The Lord made a plan to save fallen man and glorify His name. He determined to become one of us and redeem fallen man from his sins. He said that all who would believe on Him and accept His sacrifice would become a son or a daughter of God. When this happens we are clothed in the righteous garments, the wedding garments of Christ. Our sins are forgiven, and we become a part of the Bride of Christ. A great celebration is about to begin. The singing and celebration has already started in heaven and is spilling over into the streets on earth. All who hear this sound of rejoicing and join in become part of the great wedding celebration. Christ is returning for His church.
Revelation 21:1-5, Now I saw a new heaven and new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”