Pastor's Blog

. . . Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  (Ephesians 5.25-27)

I think these verses nicely sum up the life process of every church.

Americans tend to think individualistically – Christ died for me.  And we tend to think of our religious commitment as personal and private.

That is certainly an aspect of our faith.  But the apostle here talks about the church as a body.  I don’t just walk alone with Christ.  I walk with other followers of Jesus (1 John 1.3); we all have meaningful connection to each other because we have meaningful connection to Jesus.

And Jesus is in the process of sanctifying us – setting us apart, making us different, changing us – together.  He sanctifies the church.  He cleanses the church by washing her with God’s Word.  He wants to present her – the body of the church – to Himself as a pure and holy bride.

Not just me.  The church.  I’M not the bride of Christ.  The church is – all believers throughout all time. 

And the church exists in local chapters -- local churches.  And that is where the great process of beautifying the bride takes place.  Each church is going through that process as the members impact and influence each other, the Spirit of God working in and through each to change the others, to keep moving the whole body toward being the pure and spotless bride.

The unbelieving world isn’t undergoing this process.  The church is.  The church is where God is doing His work.  The church is the product He is working on.

This is why I say if we are going to “market” the product of Christianity, then we must market the people itself.  The bride – the church – the parts in relation to each other – is the visible display of the work of the invisible Spirit.

The problem is that the church is not a finished product.  It is still in process.  She is exercising and primping and working out blemishes and faults and frailties.  That is what sanctification is.

When we preach the gospel, we invite people to join themselves to Christ.  But that act of faith is inseparable from joining this greater process of change with the rest of us.  That process affects all of us through meaningful connection and interaction with each other. 

This is what “being saved” is.  It starts with a personal faith in Jesus (“I have been saved”).  But that first step of faith connects me to the body and the larger process by which we are being changed – saved from the living out of sin in our everyday lives (“I am being saved”).  And I – we – go through that process together until the church will be finally saved on the last day (“I shall be saved”).

This is why I say the church itself is “the product”.  But the product isn’t finished.  The bride is only half-dressed and her dress needs mending.  Her hair is still soaking wet and uncombed, and she's barely begun applying her makeup.  She will be ready someday.  But right now she is still in process – still far from perfect.  Quite imperfect. 

But how does one market an unfinished and imperfect product?

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