The Miracle of the Christian Church
Do you know that part of the Apostles’ Creed where we confess that we believe in the Holy Christian Church…and the Communion of Saints? What are we actually saying we believe? The Holy Christian church is also referred to as the holy catholic church – catholic here meaning universal – the invisible church which is composed of all believers worldwide. The term communion of saints is a reference to the fact that we have a community – a common bond with fellow believers (both past and present) forming a spiritual body, with Christ Jesus as our head.
The viability of the Christian church is truly a miracle, living on and on now for 2000 years, comprised of people like us, filled with faults and shortcomings. What would you say to someone who characterizes Christians as a bunch of hypocrites? Our first inclination might be to try to argue that we aren’t all hypocrites, that we shouldn’t be judged by the actions of a few. But at closer inspection, one would have to agree with that person’s assessment. At the end of the day, we are, in fact, hypocrites. None of us totally live the way we say we should live. We’re weak, we fall short, we fail. So, what DO we say to that person? How about: There’s always room for one more! Or…Christians need the church precisely because we ARE hypocrites. We gossip about one another, we slander one another. We lie, cheat, and steal. We struggle in our relationships with one another and with our Lord.
And God has chosen us – not only to be His church, but to build His church.
The Christian Church is a living, breathing miracle. What else would you call something that has, throughout the ages, been comprised of flawed people like you and me – and is STILL HERE and STILL GROWING after all these years? If it was because of our abilities and our behavior that the church would grow and thrive, then it would have died almost immediately after Christ ascended into heaven. No – it’s not us – it’s the power of the Holy Spirit who, as Luther says, calls, gathers, and enlightens the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it united with Christ Jesus in the one true faith.
It’s an exciting time for the church in the 21st century. Presently, there are over 630 million Christians in Africa, and that number is expected to double by 2050. In China, despite their best efforts to control the growth, there is a thriving underground church which some sources estimate as over 100 million people, with thousands more being added ON A DAILY BASIS!
Yes indeed…God is still at work in His church. In the book of Acts, the day of Pentecost was the launching of the Christian church, and 3000 were added to it on that day. Today, in 2021, we have Pentecosts going on every day all over the world.
This is no time to get down and depressed. Rather – give all thanks and praise to God, as the Holy Spirit works through the sinful, weak, feeble, hypocritical hands of His servants! Those hands have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, and are now energized, empowered, and commissioned to go out and make disciples – around the world, AND here at Trinity!