by Nomer Aquino
02 - 08 -2021
"A Church is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
In his first letter to the believers of Thessalonica, the apostle Paul addressed them as the church “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:1). The word “church” (Greek ekklesia) means “assembly.” Every assembly, gathering, or association has some purpose attached to it: business, civic, political, religious, etc. They are also formed or organized by one or more leaders. Paul’s simple identifier of the church in Thessalonica is a lesson. First, the church is not primarily a political or social organization, but essentially a religious one. Its purpose is for God and Christ. However it ministers in society, the Church’s members are always to speak as ambassadors for Christ, and serve as ‘priests’ of God. Because God has a claim on the whole world as its Creator, the Church has the right to declare ‘truth to power’ to all spheres of society, however. The Church has always reserved that liberty for itself, and must never shirk it regardless of adverse consequences. Nevertheless, sometimes churches clothe political and social convictions — whether conservative or progressive — as ‘gospel’ mandate. They become identified or infatuated with a certain idealogy and (perhaps) good causes such that the good news of Christ is compromised. Therefore, every church must always examine and re-examine whether it has lost focus. Second, the Church is chosen and formed by God in Jesus Christ. Presumably every religious group purports to worship God, but is every church ultimately formed by God? Apparently, every church would make that claim for itself. In that case, what is its historical and contemporary message? For example, does it adhere to the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds which have long been symbols of Christian teaching and unity? Does it proclaim, like the apostle did, that “we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord?” (2 Cor. 4:5). Does a church assemble more around a leader or for its Lord? If a church begins to splinter, then what does the effect reveal about its character? Third, therefore, a true church reflects the likeness of Jesus. Any church can claim that it worships God and works for him. However, the character of Jesus in, first, its leaders, and, second, its members, is the sure proof that it is “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace and peace to all such members!