Monday, September 10, 2007

"Christ Yes, Church Yes!"

The last few months I've run into a lot of people who are focused on the idea that going to church is unnecessary. Asserting that each time the word ‘church’ is mentioned in the Gospels and the New Testament it refers to a ‘spiritual church,’ rather than an actual ‘church’ or a gathering of Christian members in worship. Well I want to try and explain how unbiblical and unhistorical this claim of ‘no church’ really is.

First of all, In Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, He presents the Church to us as a structure, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornertstone.”[1] Paul literally founded many Churches in the various cities where he went as an evangelizer. In fact, we can see in most of Paul’s Letters how the Church is so present in his thoughts, heart and activity. Lets try and look why this might be.

Having met the new group of believers, the Christian community, Paul immediately became a fierce persecutor of it. Paul acknowledged at least three times in as many of his Letters: “I persecuted the Church of God,”[2] as if to describe his behavior as the worst possible crime. What brought Paul into the Church was a direct intervention of Christ, who in revealing himself on the road to Damascus identified himself with the Church and made Paul realize that
persecution of the Church as persecution of himself, the Lord. We find in Acts Chapter 9, Our Lord said to Paul, persecutor of the Church: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”[3] In persecuting the Church, he was persecuting Christ. Paul, therefore, was at the same time converted to Christ and to the Church.

As Paul explains how the Church is, “built upon the foundation of the apostles. . ,” we should understand that the Twelve Apostles are the most evident sign of Jesus’ will regarding the existence and mission of his Church. There is no opposition between Christ and the Church, Christ and the Church are inseparable. How can we be loyal to the King, and not His Kingdom? A slogan that was popular some years back and again rising today, “Jesus yes, Church no,” is totally inconceivable with the intention of Christ. This individualistically chosen Jesus is an imaginary Jesus.

Jesus is always present with us, he is always present with the Church, built on the foundation of the Apostles and alive in the succession of the Apostles. His very presence in the community, in which he himself is always with us, is the reason for our joy.

[1] Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 2:20
[2] Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 15:9, Gal 1:13, Phil 3:6
[3] Book of Acts, Chapter 9:4
[4] The Apostles. Pope Benedict XVI

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