[This appeared first at LifeChurchNC.com]
April 22, 2016
…to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I love the Apostle Paul’s introduction to the Church in the ancient city of Corinth. He is writing to a people whose faith in Jesus has sanctified them (made them holy), and not only them, but also along with everyone, everywhere who has confessed Jesus as Lord. It is a result of this gift of imparted sanctification and holiness, a gift given to us without us having done anything to earn it or be worthy of it, that gives us confidence and power to live holy lives for the glory of His name, lives that reflect grace and peace out of an awareness of the overwhelming grace and perfect peace we have been given by God through faith in the atoning, substitutionary sacrifice of His One and Only Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is the same Gospel, or Good News, we continue to proclaim and center ourselves around today.
As important as it is to understand what Paul is saying here, I believe it’s just as important to notice what he doesn’tsay. Paul doesn’t say, to those who attend the Church in Corinth, whose attendance and affiliation with a Church makes them sanctified… That’s ridiculous, right? And yet, this is how so many understand Church today.
Going vs. Being Church
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that many in our culture, including people around the world, have terribly confused attending church with being church, and going to church with belonging to a church. Where personal holiness is reserved to one day, typically Sunday, and where church is viewed casually as something to check off the list in order to get on with other things during the week.
This is so far removed from the early Church’s understanding of what it meant to be Church, where Church was a simply understood as a people who were sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, with all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord Jesus…
In they were defined primarily by WHO they were and not primarily by WHAT they did.
It’s the Gospel that transforms WHO we are, and therefore impacts WHAT we do.
And it’s the Church (a people) centered on the Gospel that begins to transform the world around them through Gospel-Centered living.