October 27 I Sunday
2 Timothy 1
“This is a profound mystery––but I am talking about Christ and the church.” —Ephesians 5:32
When we come to understand the Trinity of God, we realize that it demands a doctrine of the church. Two great doctrinal books of the New Testament are from Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Ephesians. Romans, on the one hand, teaches us what it means individually to be justified by faith, to be crucified with Christ, to be raised with Him, to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit and to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Ephesians, on the other hand, tells us that once we have a relationship with God, we are brought into a relationship with others.
As the Trinity does not exist in isolation but in unity together, then the Christian life cannot be lived in isolation but must be lived in unity together. The image of God is plural, not singular; therefore, if we are going to be restored into the image in which we were created, it does not mean just God and ourselves growing together in relationship but God and ourselves as well as other fellow believers growing together in relationship. As Christians, we need to repent of our individualism and recognize we were created to function not in isolation but in community. The church is designed to reflect the plurality of God.
A man once told me, “I’m a Christian but I know there is something wrong with my Christian living.” This man was not in active fellowship with other Christians; he was a lone ranger. It is no wonder that something is wrong! The Christian life was never designed to function that way. The church is not simply a club for like-minded Christians to hang out in and keep us off the streets at night. Rather, our horizontal relationships with one another enriches the vertical relationship we enjoy with God.
The church, although plural, is one because at the end of the Book of Revelation, we discover what the church is all about becoming: a bride––singular––for Christ. The church is never called the Bride of Christ until the last two chapters of the Bible. The whole great story of the gospel is a romance, where the point is bringing people into a relationship with Christ as His beloved. But the church itself is made up of men and women, boys and girls, every tribe and tongue and every part of the world. This is necessary because of the Trinity. We experience the Trinity of God when we, as the Church––the Bride––of Christ, are in relationship with the Lord and one another.
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for setting the example of what it means to be in relationship with others and You. Increase my love for others and for You. Praise You!