This week we looked at the statement in the Apostles’ Creed ‘I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints’. The statement doesn’t involve any denominational doctrine; ‘catholic’ simply means ‘universal’ and ‘orthodox’, so any Christian can affirm this statement. God is working His purposes out through the church – we are not just a ragamuffin band of disparate people, but are His body and bride!

The church is often perceived as the stumbling-block to many on the road to faith, but ‘holy’ does not mean ‘perfect’. We are the ‘called-out ones’, called to be holy (Rom 1:7, Eph 1:1, 1 Pet 1:15-16). That holiness is imparted to us from God and is not an intrinsic virtue we possess. We see a picture of what God is creating in Eph 5: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Eph 5:25-27) We may not see the church like this yet, but that day is coming!

The church is universal: God is calling people from every tongue, tribe, nation and language (Rev 7:9) Jesus entrusted to ordinary people the task of making disciples from all nations (Matt 28:18-20) and to guard sound doctrine. There is no Plan B. We have been given great responsibility!

One of the main images of the church in the New Testament is of a body, with Christ as its Head (see Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, Eph 1). We are all needed, all important. We cannot pick and choose the people with whom we worship; God does that! It’s all part of the ‘building with bananas’ which is God’s purpose. He is making something more beautiful than we have ever known, from imperfect, sinful people who are washed in the blood of the Lamb! The church is called to grow in maturity, so that “the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:12-13)