Adapted from Handbook to Spiritual Growth
THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH
New Testament metaphors for the church include the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, members of God’s family, and a people for God’s own possession. These images show that the church is more like a living organism than an organization. The necessary institutional dimensions of this organism should serve the communal and relational dimensions, but unfortunately, it usually works the other way around. This is largely because the organization is more tangible, measurable, and controllable than the organism.
The church is a spiritual family of brothers and sisters whose personal and corporate identity is rooted and grounded in the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17). Ephesians 4:16 describes the church as a body “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part”; it’s a dynamic and synergistic community in which the total is greater than the sum of its parts.
This familial community is called to be salt and light in the world at large. It is a community of people who are connected through their solitude with Christ, their suffering, and their celebration of the triune Godhead.