The Beauty of the Church
This weekend is an important weekend for First Baptist Church of Evans City. We observe Celebration Sunday—a special service focused on celebrating God’s work in our church body. To distinguish the day, we move the services from our church building to a camp about twenty-five minutes away. The service features testimonies, special music, communion, and congregational singing. The concept started long before I became the pastor, and I am grateful for the tradition. Reflecting on God’s goodness to the body and celebrating His work in the church happens every Sunday, but creating this as the focal point by setting a specific Sunday apart, heightens our awareness of what God is doing. This is a tradition, but an important tradition.
Avidly slaving away at necessary preparations, I could not help but consider the beauty of the church. The church is beautiful—not because of who we are, but because of what God has done. Consider the display of God’s wisdom in creating the church (cf. Eph 3:10). In his beautiful design, he transported hell-bound sinners to sit in the heavenlies with Christ. Then, he sovereignly situated them in a local church to manifest his glory to the onlooking world.
Listen to Paul’s description of the church in Ephesians 2:19-22: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
Did you catch the beauty of the church? Verse 19 describes the redeemed as no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens and members of God’s household. This statement paints a beautiful picture from a paltry landscape. The idea of Jew and Gentile coming together as one unified group seemed unimaginable. They despised each other, yet through God’s manifold wisdom and redemptive action, the unreconcilable enemies harmonized into one magnificent entity. Only in Christ, can the slave and the free be truly united. Only in Christ, can the greatest of enemies be reconciled. Only in Christ, can former protestors and counter-protestors in Charlottesville find peace. That is a masterpiece—a phenomenon of beauty. In Christ, our identity transforms us from who we were in our wickedness to who we are in Christ’s righteousness.
This is worth celebrating!