General | On the Perception of the Church

A Series On the Perception of the Church: Size Doesn’t Matter (Part IV)

Many are concerned with a church’s size; however, the more critical factor is its mobility. A church’s ability to move quickly in a difficult situation or to come together swiftly for a function is a significant indication that the church has energy. This life of a church doesn’t come from an empty source but rather from the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the members of the church and brings them all together as one living body. Without a doubt, the church is a living being. In her dwells the fullness of God, as St. Paul says, “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19).

In death, sickness, marriage, and other myriad life situations, when small groups of church members or the church at large come together quickly, it is evidence that the church has life and has it abundantly. When a congregation, large or small, moves together rapidly, it is a sign that the church is filled with life. When words of comfort and consolation are uttered from a compassionate heart, it is a sign that the church is filled with life. When donations are given from the heart, it is a sign that the church is filled with life. When visits are made to the sick regardless of the relationship with the family, it is a sign that the church is filled with life. When people go to funerals not knowing the family well, it is a sign that the church is filled with life. The list could go on, but the concept is the same: The church is a living being. Do you want to see the body of Christ? Go to a church that is holding a funeral and observe the empathy of the people as they fulfill the commandment, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).

In describing the new man in Christ, Paul writes to the Colossians and says, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another” (Col. 3:12–13). When one looks into the word bearing, it is actually not the best translation; it actually ought to read, “supporting one another.” This is what is meant by a living church. The book of Acts speaks about the blessing of God in growing the church: “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem” (Acts 6:7). A big church versus a small church isn’t the concern but rather the Spirit, who moves the church; the mobility; and the unity of the church. The pain, agony, joy, support, empathy, and compassion among the church members is normal and expected. Just as a body part feels pain in other body parts, so precisely the church members feel each other and move quickly and organically. It is almost beyond and above their will, but yet it isn’t. It is beyond their will in the sense that they have to move, but it is their will for they do it compassionately. It is indeed the Spirit of God, who promised the church not to ever leave it. Size doesn’t matter, for as long as it is living, it is Living!

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