One of the themes which the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, constantly reminds us about is the importance of our relationship with other believers.
When a person is born again by the Spirit, a new relationship starts not only with God but also with all other Christians in the church.
Jesus’ ministry on earth continues through both individual believers and also through the united body—the church. Jesus’ prayer recorded in John 17:20-26 shows how vital our united relationships are in enabling the world to believe in him.
In Ephesians 2:15-16 Paul shows that, through Jesus’ death, God created one single New Man, and that we all have been reconciled to God ‘in one Body’. This means that, though we do all have a personal relationship with God, we are also united with each other.
Unity is one of those vital facts which gives our evangelism credibility. How can we expect the world to listen to our message of reconciliation and forgiveness when churches are divided or competitive?
The New Testament uses a variety of word pictures to describe the united church. Each one provides us with an insight into an aspect of Jesus’ continuing ministry on earth through the church.
We are a holy nation, and have been set apart for a corporate life of dedication and consecration. We form the body of Christ so that he can carry on living his perfect life on earth through us.
We belong totally to God. We are his church, citizens of his heaven and children of his kingdom. We are subject to his laws and directed by his Spirit. We do his bidding and establish his kingdom in his way and in his time.
Just as the only valid ministry belongs to Jesus, so too the church belongs entirely to him. There is no such thing as ‘my’ church! Jesus’ life was shot through with the Spirit. He was born of the Spirit, he lived in the Spirit, and he ministered in complete dependence on the Spirit. Then he baptized the church in the same Holy Spirit so that we can go on living with his purity, serving with his power and revealing the wonderful presence of God.
In 1 Peter 2:9 we are described as a ‘chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God’.
Peter’s descriptions express similar ideas to Paul’s terms for united disciples: a bride, (2 Corinthians 11:2); a holy temple (1 Corinthians 3:16); a body (Ephesians 1:23); and the church (1 Corinthians 1:2).
We have been carefully chosen to be the bride of Jesus. This means that we are loved with an eternal love and will share Jesus’ inheritance of all things.
We are the royal priesthood who serve the king by sacrificially serving the king’s people in all sorts of ways, and by filling ourselves with the priestly sacrifices of prayer and praise. Surely it should be a tremendously high honour to serve the ultimate royal family in their royal residence!