By Father Peter Farrington
“It must be the central concern of each member, of the servants and pastors, and of the congregations as a whole.” What is the Church for? The Community
In part 1 “What Is The Church For? | The Business”, then we learned in Part 2 “What the Scripture teach us about the Church“.
St Paul begins his letter by insisting that whatever their problems as a Christian community, they are rooted in a failure to be and become saints. The word holy does not essentially mean not doing bad things, but means that we are consecrated and set apart for God. It returns us to the idea that what matters most is putting God first in all things, in all relationships, in all activities, in all service.
It means that we advance in the experience and participation of life in Christ by the Holy Spirit so that wherever we are and whatever we are doing is in the grace of God and belongs to God.
The Community | The Will Of God
It is not possible to be the Church or to accomplish the will of God for the Church without a seeking after holiness, after perfect consecration to the will of God, after saintliness. We cannot be the Church in our spare time. We cannot become saints together when all our daily work is complete. It must be the central concern of each member, of the servants and pastors, and of the congregations as a whole. To live for the will of God, and in the will of God, whatever this requires of us.
“God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as it is in all churches of the saints.” [Corinthians 14:33] St Paul says What is the Church for? The Community
The Community | The Peace Of God
How else may we measure the health of a congregation or community? St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:33… God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as it is in all churches of the saints. This is certainly a spiritual rule which applies in our personal lives. When we have submitted to the will of God in humble obedience we find peace in the Holy Spirit. When we are seeking our own will then we find confusion, anxiety, a lack of rest.
This is multiplied in the life of a congregation. If there is confusion, disunity, discord and argument in a community then it is not of God. And the proper response to such harmful and destructive conditions must surely be to seek the presence of God, and not to press on in worldly strength to achieve some human objective. If the will of God is known and received in humility by all then there will be peace.
If there is no peace then the will of God has not been known or received in humility, and it is necessary to wait on the Lord with repentance, self-sacrifice, humility, obedience and patience.
“And God hath put all things under His feet, and hath given Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” [Ephesians 1:22] St Paul says What is the Church for? The Community
The Community | The Body Of God
How are we to do this when we are sure that our own opinions are the will of God? It must be by the giving up of all personal will to the common seeking after God. In his letter to the Ephesians 1:22, St Paul says… And God hath put all things under His feet, and hath given Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. Do we trust in the head of the Church, which is Christ himself?
And do we truly believe that the Church is his own Body, and that he fills us, and even our congregations with his own fulness? What does it mean to be his Body? Surely it means that we must fulfill in our own lives his own humble service in the world. This is what over all things and filleth all in all means.
The Community | The Mission Of God
It requires us to have a relation with the world outside the Liturgy, which is, to a great extent, the meaning and purpose of the Liturgy. The Church is not an organisation that has some secondary relation to the purposes of God in Christ. It is not a human institution that develops various services for members, like a social club, and also hopes to be engaged in a number of religious activities as well.
If the Church is the Body of Christ, and if Christ is the Head of his Body, then every aspect of the life of the Church, his own Body, must be concerned with fulfilling the mission and ministry of Christ in the world, a mission and ministry he began himself, but will complete through his own Body.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly equipped for all good works.” [2 Timothy 16-17] St Paul says What is the Church for? The Community
The Community | The Works Of God
Is it possible to properly be the Church and not be engaged in the mission and ministry of Christ in the world? What is the service of the Church to her own members if it is not an equipping for service in and to the world? What does St Paul say to St Timothy in 2 Timothy 16-17… All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly equipped for all good works.
This passage is often used when we are speaking about the inspiration of Scripture. But it is less often used to reflect on what the purpose of the Christian life is actually for. Why do we need doctrine? Why do we need to be reproved and corrected and taught how to live the life of righteousness? It is so that we might become perfect, and this perfection is not found in simply attending Church services, or having some ministry in the congregation, but in being thoroughly equipped for good works.
To be continued, with the question: What are these good works that the members of the Church should be equipped to perform?
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2020-03-29 from Liverpool, England
COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network & COPTICNN™ DIRECTORY | Christian Business Directory
Columnists: COPTICNN™ award-winning columnists are a fundamental pillar of our coverage. They range in their interests from orthodoxy, faith, politics, to world affairs, to business, to the arts, to the way we live. No matter the issue, they are always in the middle of our Christian discourse. They are trusted by our readers and followed by many Coptic Orthodox Christians worldwide. Influential, provocative, and engaging, our columnists provide insights and analysis that can’t be found elsewhere, making them a prime destination for WORLD readers.