Thomas R. Rowe, Jr.
When one thinks of the term “church”, more often than not an edifice comes to mind. Church is thought of as a place where one goes to worship, to pray, and to hear a sermon. But that is not the Biblical understanding of church. Three metaphors are most often used to describe the church: a Building, a Bride and a Body. Writing to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul referred to the church as, “members of the household of God, being built into a holy temple, a dwelling place of God.” In the book of Revelation, John sees the church as a Bride being prepared for the arrival of her bridegroom, Jesus Christ. And in Corinthians the church is depicted as a Body having many members, each functioning interdependently of the other, but as one unit. The Head of the Body is Christ, and we are individual members.
Just as members of the natural body work together in harmony and in unity, so also as members of the Spiritual Body (the Church) we are to relate to each other in honor and in respect of the diversity that is in each member. Each member has a particular function, and no member is of more or of less significance than any other. Though there are ministries given to the church, they are given for the express purpose of equipping the members for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4).
Every Christian is called with one calling. We are all disciples of the Lord. Some are ‘called’ to a specific ministry that will occupy them full time, and will therefore be their source of livelihood. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:14, “Even so has the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” Some earn their livelihood in other ways, but “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
The world makes a distinction between secular work and religious work (and so might we without proper understanding). The Biblical point of view is that all work is Christian if there is a Christian doing it and if what is done glorifies God and demonstrates love for one’s neighbor. All work has dignity from God’s perspective, whether one is employed in an office, or department store, whether as a businessman or a homemaker. Your present work is dignified because you, as a Christian—a disciple of Christ—are in it and God has you there as His Ambassador to represent Him, your King.
When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth and declared, “We are ambassadors for Christ…” He was not addressing a conference of pastors or elders; he was reminding every believer of their “calling” as followers of Jesus Christ. What the world needs now is for every believer to become a full-time disciple, witnessing and ministering by example. This is precisely why God has placed you where you are—to be an ambassador, whose mission and purpose is to see those with whom you come in contact, reconciled to Christ. May God empower you and give you wisdom, patience, grace and peace as you fulfill your calling. You ARE the church.
Thomas R. Rowe, Jr.