Well, the school year is over (as I mentioned in the previous blog) and yes, I am looking forward to my retirement (long term goal), but I’m also enjoying the prospect of a long, well earned vacation in the summer months.
If all this were true, I would be extremely happy right now…and relaxed. It turns out that the word “vacation” has been replaced by another word this summer: “Proyectos.” I have a long list of projects waiting to be completed. I have work to do for the church, for the School District and there is a “Honey, Do” list at home that is only for the brave at heart.
I’m not complaining (well, maybe just a little bit); it is good to remain somewhat busy during our vacations and even during retirement. Work gives us purpose, direction and a sense of accomplishment that laziness and idleness will never give to us.
Think about what would happen to us if God would go on vacation even for a day. I know that there are times when it seems that God has left us, but do not confuse his “silence” with separation. Jesus has promised that He will always be with us (Matthew 28:20).
God’s presence in our lives is active, invasive and continuous. He is no mere observer or even a consultant, whom we employ from time to time. He is our eternal God, Lord and Master and He is the Owner of our lives.
God always has a project going on; in fact, the Bible depicts Him and his Son as continuously working in our lives. It was Jesus who said in John 5:17.
“My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
You have probably heard the following (and truthful) expressions:
“God is still working on me”
“God is not finished with me yet”
We are an unfinished project, but don’t worry because God has promised to complete it (Philippians 1:6). God is always working in us, for us and through us. In Philippians 2:13 we are told the secret of an obedient and happy life:
“…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
God works in us so we can work for Him. In Ephesians 2:10 we learn that our salvation (God’s greatest project) is not only the direct result of God’s work in our hearts, but this work that began in heaven and was accomplished at the cross, will now continue through us.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
You and I are God’s project and He will finish what He started. One day, we will stand in his presence in heaven and we shall be “glorious…holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). I don’t know if I will be able to complete all my projects, but God will.
The church, as described in the Bible is one and yet many things at the same time. There is only one true universal church, but there are many local churches, which are the localized expression of church. There is only one church, but it is described in many different ways. In this short blog, I will attempt to compile all the names and characteristics of the church.
The church is a spiritual Building “…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 peter 2:5)
The church is a Bride “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
The church is a Body “…so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (Romans 12:5)
The church is a Family “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14, 15)
The church is a Flock “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
The church is a Tree “I am the vine, you are the branches.” (John 15:5; see also Psalm 1:3 and Romans 11:13-23)
The Church is a Heavenly Race “…But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…” (1 Peter 2:9)
There are many more metaphors that describe the church, but the aforementioned paint a complete picture. The church is not a corporation or an organization (although we need both). The church is a living, growing and diverse organism and is not confined to a building, for it is the people of God that make up the church.
The church is centered on Christ and without Jesus, there is no church. He is the Head of the body, the Shepherd of the flock, the Husband of the bride, the Cornerstone of the temple, the Root and Trunk of the tree and the Father of the whole family.
To be part of the church, therefore, you must be so connected to the Lord that you have to be IN Christ. Attending church services, praying and reading the Bible may earn you a membership in some local congregations, but only those who believe, follow, obey and love Christ are part of his eternal church.