It's complicated. The “powers that be” can be frightening, dangerous, very stupid. BUT even in that situation, the true, invisible Church – us! - shows the wonderful wisdom of God.

We can see “First Church”, standing on the corner.

And we call it “a church” or “my church”, because one meaning of “church” is a building. But another meaning of “church” is a group of people  who agree to do “churchly” things together, often in a “church” building.

 

But in the New Testament, “church” usually means two other things.

1) All the Christ-followers in town,

You couldn’t tell for sure who was a Christ-follower by looking at them. But you could see who associated with the Christ-followers, or who seemed to live like someone who loves and is being strongly influenced by Christ.
– all the people who believe in Christ, in a certain town or region – like “the church in Ephesus”.

As today, you couldn’t tell for sure who was a Christ-follower by looking at them. But you could see who associated with the Christ-followers, or who seemed to live like someone who loves and is being strongly influenced by Christ. So the church in a region is partly visible, but basically invisible.

“Church” also sometimes means:

2) All the Christ-followers in the entire world,

including, it seems, those who have already passed on. So, on that scale, the church is obviously largely invisible.

So the church in a region is partly visible, but basically invisible.

Here in Hastings, for example, we understand the most common language, we know the culture, we know where some of the “churches” are.  But we still don’t know who exactly are the people who love Christ, who are devoted to following His teaching, who are being strongly influenced by His personality (the Holy Spirit). And that’s pretty important.

We don’t know who is in THE Church. So – there may be a sizeable Church in Hastings that is mostly invisible.

Does THAT “invisible” church matter?

Well, I believe that’s the church Paul was writing about in Ephesians 3:10.

God’s intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

God’s Own Multi-Colored, Multi-Flavored Wisdom (“manifold wisdom of God”)

is being demonstrated through actual living people HERE AND NOW!

It is people

  • who love Christ,
  • who are devoted to His teaching,
  • who are being increasingly influenced by His personality (the Holy Spirit).

It is these people GOD IS USING to demonstrate His own multi-colored, multi-flavored wisdom (“manifold wisdom of God”) even right here in Hastings, in “manifold” lives, homes, churches, etc.  Here! Us! To me, that is wonderful!

God’s Own Multi-Colored, Multi-Flavored Wisdom is being demonstrated through actual living people HERE AND NOW! It is people who love Christ, are devoted to His teaching, are increasingly influenced by His person (the Holy Spirit). Click To Tweet

But – what do we do?  How can we respond to that?  I mean, we don’t even know who’s in it!

Well, we each MUST BE CHURCH where we can.

First, in our own hearts and livesIt's complicated. The “powers that be” can be frightening, dangerous, very stupid. BUT even in that situation, the true, invisible Church – us! - shows the wonderful wisdom of God.

– be active, willing participants in that great invisible Church that only God knows for sure.

Second, groups we are connected with can be helped by us

(e.g. “First Church”) to be active, willing participants in that great invisible Church that only God knows for sure.

Our situation is complicated.  The “powers that be” in this world can be frightening, dangerous, or just very stupid. But in that persistent and unpleasant situation,

Paul says THIS – us being the Church – is how the awesome, wonderful wisdom of God is demonstrated

even to the great, often dishonest and secretive, sometimes horrible powers  that operate in this world. By The Church BEING The Church. We can do that wherever we are, wherever we have a bit of influence –

  1. most importantly, in our own individual lives;
  2. second, in the “local church” (e.g. “First Church”) that we are involved with;
  3. third, with whoever else we find who is working on that same sort of project;
  4. fourth, wherever, with whomever.

This is good news.

So:

“May the church be the church.”

May I MYSELF be the church where I live!