Jesus Christ is the reason for the existence of the Church. We are His bride, hidden in Him from before the beginning of the universe, and revealed to the world when they pierced His side, and we emerged as Eve did from the gash in Adam’s side.
Set your hearts on God’s kingdom first, and on His righteousness, and all these other things will be added as well.
If you make my Word your home, you will be my disciples, says the Lord Jesus Christ, and He adds, Whoever loves me keeps my commandments.
The institutional Church can exist from generation to generation by promoting itself, by tantalizing us with hope of salvation if we dedicate ourselves to participating in churchly activities. It is satisfied with us if we just show up on Sundays, and if some of us lend a hand in running its earthly functions.
In that institutional Church, however, is the actual Church in which live the apostles, the prophets, the martyrs—in brief, the saints—those who follow Jesus and who know Him and are known by Him. They do what He says, not for show, not for authority, not for reputation, not for money—just because He commands them, and they obey.
Only the obedient believe.
If anyone would be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me, says the Lord Jesus.
If we promote religion, we can worry about church statistics, and busy ourselves with trying to figure out why the youth, or any segment of the baptised members, are becoming less and less interested in “church,” and we can try to devise ways to stop this emigration of saved souls back to the world. We do this to no avail, because we are ourselves still part of this world to which they are slowly escaping, and we are using the world’s methods, thinking in a worldly way, and haven’t ourselves left this world.
If we promote Jesus Christ and the Gospel, who He really is, the living One who is in our midst, and live in His Word, making our home there, placing all our trust in Him on a moment-by-moment basis, learning of Him and taking on His yoke, then we ourselves have left this world behind and live already by faith in the new world that He has prepared for us. Then our lives become living words, testimonies of the Gospel in our very flesh, so that not only the youth of the Church, but even those we meet outside, are confronted by a new reality that invites them into itself. We become and are a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. We become for the world either the sweet fragrance of salvation or the stench of death, depending on their response to Christ, who lives in us.
The Church exists because it is in Christ and will always exist because He is in our midst. The question really is, who do we think we are, and whose?
Once we give the right answer, we will no longer have to be anxious for anything, because it is not we ourselves, but Christ in us, who does everything.
We will know the truth, and the truth will make us free.
And who doesn’t want that kind of freedom?