As a Christian I am often found seeking God’s will for my life, my future, my things. It’s the case with many of us: our personal universe dominates our view of the universe. Until we’re helped by meeting with other Christians to realize that God’s goal is the church. Then our existence makes sense as we see our personal universe in the light of God’s eternal purpose.
This happened again last week while I was meeting with some accounting students on campus in a Bible study on Ephesians. We had reached the section on putting on the whole armor of God for spiritual warfare, and a specific line of truth concerning the church came out:
The church is an entity that can endure death.
From another angle, as a Christian on campus I often meet students who want to talk about how to unify the church. A recent post on Kyle Barton’s blog Lifeandbuilding.com points us in the right direction regarding this challenge. As he says, the church is not merely a social group for God’s redeemed nor a transformative social force. He goes on to say we need to see it as God does. In other words, the church needs less our solving it and more our seeing it.
One principle concerning the church is that it derives everything from its source, Jesus Christ. To this end a single prophecy in the Old Testament can enlighten us concerning the church’s existence and put some fears to rest.
Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You endure; Indeed all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years are without end. Psalm 102:25-27
Christ is the eternal, unchanging, ever-existing One. Nothing, not now and not ever, can change Him. Furthermore, Paul says in Ephesians 3:11 that before the universe was created God purposed in Christ Jesus to have the church manifest His wisdom through eternity. The church partakes of the same eternal existence as Christ.
In an age where everything – think back to those videos of the earthquake in Japan – is shakable, the church alone differs. Hebrews 12:23-28 speaks of the church as an unshakable kingdom that remains to eternity.
22 But you have come forward to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; and to myriads of angels, to the universal gathering, 23 And to the church of the firstborn, who have been enrolled in the heavens; and to God, the Judge of all; and to the spirits of righteous men who have been made perfect; 24 And to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant; and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks something better than that of Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks, for if those did not escape who refused Him who warned them upon the earth, much more we shall not escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven, 26 Whose voice at that time shook the earth but now has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven.” 27 And this word, “Yet once more,” shows clearly the removal of the things being shaken as being of things having been made, that the things which are not shaken may remain. 28 Therefore receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us have grace, through which we may serve God well-pleasingly with piety and fear;
If you’re like me, it’s both comforting and freeing to realize that the church is unshakable. It will outlast the known universe. Not even death can overcome it. That is pretty strong grounds to not have to worry about it, and a pretty compelling reason to be in it.