Jesus gives us several metaphors to help us understand what the church should be like. The ‘church’ is not a religious building, or a specific denomination. The church is every person who accepts Jesus as their savior. Here are five metaphors to help us understand His plan for the church:
God is the master architect
1. The Church is like a Building
This means: We need support.
If you are in the ‘church’, you are a part of the building, and helping build the building. If you are a pillar, then you need someone who is concrete to support you; you need someone as a roof, for you to hold up. We need people to support us, and people who we can support. A building is not made of only one kind of material. We need each other; we cannot do it by ourselves.
– Eph. 2:19-22 – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
– 1 Cor. 3:9-10,16 – You are God’s building. Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation (Jesus) like an expert builder. Now others are building on it… Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
We are the body of Christ
2. The Church is like a Body
This means: We need to grow.
When a body is healthy, it grows and develops. It needs many parts to be able to function. If you plucked out the eye, it couldn’t do its job. It still holds the potential to do it’s job, but it is worthless unless it is attached to the body. Parts must be connected to use their potential, help, and grow. Your potential cannot be realized by you. You need others to bring out your full potential. When we are separated from the body, we die.
– Rom. 12:4-6 – For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
– Eph. 4:16 – From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
– Eph. 4:11-12 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
– Phil. 1:6 – For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Christ is the shepherd of the flock
3. The Church is like a Flock
This means: We need protection.
The church is meant to protect you and for you to protect those in it. You are not meant to be alone. You can be around a lot of people, but if you aren’t being truthful, and transparent, you will feel utterly alone. You are meant to be able to share your life with others and let them speak into you. You need others to teach you, help you spot enemies, and help you trample the enemies. The enemies plan is to find those who are separated from the flock, and those who are weak. You cannot stay safe on your own.
– Acts 20:28-29 – Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
-Acts 17:26-27 – he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
– 1 Peter 5:2 – Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care
– Jer. 3:15 – I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.
– Luke 12:31-33 – But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven
We are the family of God
4. The Church is like a Family
This means: We need to be loved unconditionally
God loves us unconditionally. We are saved by His grace, not by works. Have you had a family member you didn’t get along with? We might not get along, but we aren’t supposed to kick each other out of the family. We need to be able to see others through our Fathers heart. The more we understand God’s heart, the more we will be able to show His love to others. We are adopted by God, into His family, and joined together by the blood of Jesus. A lot of times, your church family sticks closer to you than your physical family. These people know the struggle and have wisdom from God to share with you. We need more spiritual sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers. Mentors rise up!
– Eph. 2:19 – you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household
– Prov. 18:24 – … there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
– Eph. 1:5 – he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will
– Rom. 8:14,29 – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God… For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
– Gal. 3:26 – So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith
– 1 John 4:20-21 – If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
We are the bride of Christ
5. The Church is like a Bride
This means: We need to be One with Christ.
We need to leave everything to be joined to Christ, our husband. We need to get rid of every hinderance, and lay down every weight. We can be honest to our husband, because He loves us unconditionally. He takes His vow seriously, and He does not believe in divorce. In Jewish culture they would actually slaughter a bull and the couple getting married would walk between the parts and say, ‘may I be like this bull if I do not keep my vow.’ Christ walked through the parts for us (Gen.15:9-18). We are in a covenant relationship with Him and He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut.31:6).
– Gen. 2:24 – a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
– Eph. 5:31-32 – “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
– 1 Cor. 6:17 – But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
– Rom. 8:9 – You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ
– Ruth 1:15-16 – Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.
– Matt. 19:29 – And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
Worship: Brother, by NeedToBreathe
Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re feelin’ low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home
Prayer: Lord, join your body together, so we can be the holy temple of God. Make your bride spotless, and show your people how to live unified in love. Keep our eyes set on your return, for you left for Spirit as a wedding pledge to us. Let us keep showing off this great gift of your Spirit, as one would a wedding ring. Let us stay about your work awaiting your return to take us to the home you have prepared for us in your Father’s kingdom. May your people (family) be our people; teach us to love them. May we build up the your people (building) with words of encouragement. May we protect your people (flock) and share the truth about our sufferings, trials, and victories. Help us grow, develop, and reach our full potential. Bring a new level of unity and love to us in Jesus name, Amen.
For more on this topic you can listen to Pastor Chris Hodges:
Be Transparent – How to Live Through A Bad Day – Highlands Series
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