What is the Church? An International Community.
St Augustine’s, 10:30am All Saints Day, 3rd November 2002
Ge 12:1-3; Eph 2:11-22
All Saints traditionally a time when we look back at inspiring men and women of God in the past.
we might wish we lived then. Because recently everything in the papers about Church of England has all been doom and gloom.
- Infighting within the Church of England about the new Archbishop.
- Attendance figures. Showed another significant drop in numbers.
Article from Times
BUT today bigger picture.
An international community
Church worldwide growing. South America, Africa.
Huge variety of different churches. RC, Orthodox, Pentecostal.
!! BIG PICTURE
2 facts to put things into perspective:-
Church has always been growing. First apostles – Good News over the whole world. Bible translated to 1600 languages.
Fulfils promise Ge12:2-3.
Always have been different types of church. Churches started by St Paul.
Jerusalem- jews, tradition, “high”
Corinth, greeks, busy trade centre. “Pentecostal”.
- good things and problems about both.
Church to connect with people, must vary from place to place.
p21 Michael Wooderson - “The Church Down our street”
Church in country parish in Cheshire, West Africa, city of London, Cheadle Heath.
connecting with people there.
CHALLENGE – connect with the people outside the church.
when we look back at the history of the church – splits often because of that.
tempting to look at churches and ask – is there any similarity between them?
What unites us is Jesus
Convinced that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.
Uni committee made up of all the different Christian societies: Taize, Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Methodist.
“How can we ever be united – we have different opinions about all kinds of things; we do things in such different ways.”
We all know the same person We all know Jesus.
!! Ephesians 2:11-22
Divisions in the early church. Jews / Gentiles. Such different backgrounds, can they ever be equal brothers and sisters.
Paul gives the same answer
v14 “Christ has made peace between Jews and Gentiles.”
v19-20 “You are citizens with everyone else who belongs to the family of God”.
foundation: leaders important but Christ as the most important stone
Jesus is what unites us
What Paul also says is that our unity focuses on Cross. v16
Why is that?
2 reasons why all Christians are in exactly the same boat:-
- We all stand before the cross as sinners.
- Because of the cross we all have the same Spirit.
What does the Holy Spirit do? Makes us more like Jesus.
What unites all believers is a living relationship with Jesus Christ.
Cardinal Suenens (p347 I believe in the Church, D Watson).
!!! Kingdom of God
When we realise that, we come much closer to what Jesus wanted us to be.
Jesus is only recorded as using the word “church” twice in the gospels.
Kingdom of God.
How is that different?
Church: buildings, pcc, services, denominations, uncomfy pews.
Kingdom of God:
Much wider, exciting. Not limited to what we control
Jesus is the king.
Perspective – how is he at work in my life?
What gifts and abilities has he given me?
How is he at work in the world out there?
How does he want to use us in that task?
Jesus continues to be at work in the world. The church everywhere needs to hear his call again.
Back to Genesis reading
Ge 12:3 “Everyone on Earth will be blessed because of you”
Abraham Israel Jesus fulfilled.
Jesus continues to be at work.
Jesus church has grown and thrived in different cultures.
We are now Jesus’ church
Will we allow God to bless everyone, all nations, on the earth through us?