Thursday, June 15, 2006

Church as a Form of Grammar

How you see the church is an indication of what you believe about Jesus. The two are inseparable. The Church is the Bride of Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ. The Church is the Temple built by Christ. The Church is the culmination of God's plan for heaven and earth. So it follows that what we feel about Jesus is reflected in our reactions to the term church.

The best example of this is how we use the word church when we speak. Do we use it as a noun, verb, preposition, or adjective? I don't mean using the word in these ways literally, but using it in the same spirit these forms of grammar represent. Each of these ways of relating to the church has an implication for how we view Jesus.


The church is seen only as an entity. It is like an organization with functions, duties, mission statements, and culture. We refer to the church as an it. We become members by joining it. The structure is sometimes seen as a building or club formed out of a shared identity: Christian. (I.e. "The Church is responsible for the state of our culture.") This person likely sees Christ as an inactive figure-head.


Here the church is viewed as something one does. "We are having church this morning!" It is seen as an activity one participates in for various results — to please God, to be good; to get right; to get energized; to be entertained. This person likely sees Christ as an employer.


The person that uses the word as a preposition doesn't see the church as relevant. They use it to connect two ideas, but it serves no other purpose. (I.e. "I plan to go to church to find a mate?") This person likely sees Christ as irrelevant or inconsequential to their life and plans.


For this person, the Church is more than a place or entity. It describes a type of people. They see the word church as an attempt to explain a complex idea. They view it as a collection, group, gathering, or community of people who believe and follow the teachings of Christ and the apostles. They exist throughout time, different locations, and among different segments of society. But their identifying marks are their allegiance to Christ, to each other, to the message of salvation, and to their shared experiences of persecutions. (I.e. "We are the Church.")

How do you use the word?

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