Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist but others Elijah and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
It doesn’t take long before one is reminded that it seems like people have lost their minds, and for a good variety of reasons. Yes, it’s complicated, and the world has always been challenged, with catastrophes added. It is a wondrous, beautiful, wild, threatening and broken world, all at the same time. But the God who created it is somehow present in all of this, and will make, in fact has begun to make all things new, bringing in a new existence. And that’s present now, and what is needed today more than anything else.
It is nothing more or less than the church, yes, the church. The church, which more than understandably has gotten a hard rap, and probably to some significant extent, richly deserves it. When the church buys into, or is bought into the principalities and powers, and is subsumed in them, then the church deserves critique, even scorn, and like some of the churches named in Revelation 2 and 3, is in danger of being church no longer. Yes, there’s a more than understandable saying that many love Christ, but not the church. I’m afraid that the church is often watered down and contaminated, not that any church that’s ever existed is without something of this problem.
But the church is Christ’s body on earth. And through the church, Christ somehow fills everything, whatever precisely that means. What could possibly be more important than that? It turns out, all kinds of things. Let’s make an inevitably partial list: an inerrant Bible with just the right theology and doctrine supposedly Spirit-led, nothing more than fiction; a supposed government/state, which is godly, even Christian; being “right”; everyone knowing their place and remaining there; (ab)using the earth for more and more profit; a large, powerful military; laws that supposedly facilitate justice, and we could go on and on and on.
At least something of the intent and some of what’s listed might have some grain of truth in it, even when still mistaken. In the world in which we live, faith and visions can’t be imposed on others, and there ought to be an appreciation of a common grace from God to all, so that everyone is involved when it comes to the state/government. You can see that I strongly support democracy, and am opposed to any kind of authoritarian government.
But regardless of how we parse anything and everything, as far as believers and followers of Christ should be concerned, there is one thing that makes everything else not only pale in comparison, but really not exist at all, since it’s not in that level or sphere. And that’s yes, the ordinary church. Simple people like myself, voluntarily joined together by baptism and faith, and in that entity and gathering by the Spirit, nothing less than the body of Christ.
To be present in the world, with God’s mysterious work in that. To be about doing good works in helping where help is needed. Being what the world needs, a light to expose all darkness, salt and light to influence all society for good. The church being Christ’s body on earth.
This certainly doesn’t answer all the questions, yet that is what we Christ-followers can and should settle into. Yes, we’re concerned, and there’s many things we could humbly suggest, and should do in reference to the problems of the world. But what is needed above and beyond anything else is the church, the good news of God in Christ for the world present in that church, shining out to all the world.