Over my life there have been “special” things that have meant a lot to me. There have been special toys like my Teddy Ruxpin. [My mom swears I took that bear everywhere.] I’ve had special friends and mentors in my life like Shane Harchfield that have played a huge influential role that has helped shape me into the man I am today. I’ve had special moments in my life like the day I came to know Christ, the days I proposed and married my sweet wife, and the days all my children came into the world (although I was half asleep when Ellie came into the world). For many of these special things they continue to hold a special place in my heart.
As I was reflecting on the message this past Sunday—A Picture of a Revolutionary Church—I couldn’t help but think about the uniqueness of the church and how she is one of those special things in life. But what’s so special about the church one may ask? I can think of at least seven things that make the church special and unique.
- The Church is the bride of Christ.
The New Testament likens the church, followers of Jesus, to a bride (see Rev 19:7). Jesus is the bridegroom and we, the church, are His bride. Now, I’m no expert on marriage—having been married for only twelve years—but if you don’t view or treat your spouse as special there’s a serious problem. Likewise, the church should be viewed as something special because she is the bride of Christ. I’ve heard many say that they love Jesus, but don’t necessarily care for the church. The problem with this is that if you love Jesus, you will love what he loves—and the truth is He loves His bride.
- The Church is the people of God and the body of Christ.
Where the church is present, God is present. In the Old Testament, God chose to take up residence in the tabernacle and later the temple where He would be present among His people. In the New Testament, particularly the Gospels, Jesus was God incarnate who “tabernacled” with and among His people. When one saw Jesus, they saw God. Prior to His resurrection and then ascension, Jesus promised to send His disciples His Spirit to indwell them. When the Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost, filling the followers of Jesus, the church became the dwelling place of God. No longer was a temple needed to house the presence of God; now because of the finished work of Christ His people became the spiritual house whereby God’s presence dwells.
The church, therefore, is special because she literally is the locale where the presence of Jesus is manifested. When one sees the church—whether gathered or scattered—they are gazing upon the presence of Christ.
- The Church is the vehicle that advances God’s mission in the world.
God, throughout Scripture, has aimed to create a people for Himself who would advance His mission of making Him known throughout the created order by reflecting His glory in all spheres of their life. However, Adam and Eve failed in the mission when they succumbed to the serpent’s deceptive temptation. In addition, Israel failed to be the God’s glorious light to the nations as they continued to chase after false gods. But it is through the church, because of the finished work of Christ and the Spirit’s indwelling, that the mission of God advances throughout the world in every nation.
The church is special because she is God’s chosen vehicle by which He moves through the world inviting people (through verbally sharing the gospel) to repent of their sin and idolatry and to surrender to and confess Christ as their Lord, God, King, and Savior—thereby becoming part of His people, the church.
To be part of the church is to participate in God’s mission of making Him known.
- The Church is the window by which people look to see the kingdom of God.
I love shopping! I know it’s weird for a man to like shopping, but I can’t help it. When it comes to shopping, I’m more of a window shopper. I like peering through the window to see if there’s something good to be had—especially a good deal! The nice big windows are the lenses by which I see whether or not something good is to be had.
Just as department stores use big windows and displays to catch the attention of those passing by, God uses the church as large windows for people to catch a glimpse of the kingdom of God.
Being the windows that give people a glimpse of God’s kingdom makes the church special. As the church (both individually and corporately) lives under the rule and reign of God in all areas of life—personal, emotional, marital, familial, relational, vocational, financial, and cultural—she reflects what life in the kingdom of God looks like.
- The Church is a loving, supportive, caring, and encouraging family.
As Americans, we are some of the most individualized and isolated people on planet earth. Yet, at the same time, we are some of the most lonely and depressed people who long for true community and connection. If you don’t think we long for community and connection, look no further than Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. People want community and connection. But the truth is, it’s hard to find the type of connection and community we were made for.
The church is so special for she is the community, connection, and family we are longing for, and not only that, but she’s the community, connection, and family we were made for.
Biblically speaking, the church is suppose to be the most loving, forgiving, supportive, caring, gracious, kind, and encouraging family and community in the world. When you find this kind of family, you have truly found something special.
- The Church is a selfless, sacrificial organism that enhances life.
My grandma is one of the most selfless and sacrificial people in the world. She is constantly putting others before herself. When she goes to the store it’s not to look for her, but for others. My grandma pours her life into the cups of others. The church is special because, like my grandma, instead of sucking life out of a community, city, or the world, the church breathes life into them. Instead of seeking or receiving glory, the church seeks to give it. Just as Jesus gave His life for the glory of God and for the good of the dying world, the church (in a similar manner) is to do likewise. As the church lives a selfless and sacrificial life she pours her life into others thereby enhancing life and bringing flourishing to the cities and communities where she resides.
- The Church is a transformative agent.
I’m grateful for laundry detergent. Why, you ask? The simply answer is laundry detergent is the transformative agent that cleans my clothes and allows me to wear my clothes again without the fear of having a fowl smell exude from my body.
In a similar manner, the presence of the church in the world is a transformative agent that gives off the sweet aroma of Christ in a fowl and putrid world.
In addition, the church acts like salt and light providing taste, preservation, and exposure to a tasteless, decaying, and dark world. Therefore the church is special because as she is empowered by the Spirit, God works through her to bring transformation to people, families, communities, and cities around the world.
In conclusion, the church is special because she is special to God. The church holds a near and dear place in the heart of God. Therefore, the church is special to me, and holds a near and dear place in my heart. In all honesty, I can’t help but love the church and be devoted to her—regardless of her imperfections. My prayer is that every believer would see the uniqueness and the specialness of the church, and how God is using her to glorify Himself, advance His mission to every nation, reflect His kingdom, work for the good of the world, and conform His people into the image of Jesus.