“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
The biblical word translated “church” is ekklesia. It means (the totality of) those who are called out. Three crucial questions.
- Who calls?
- From what are people called?
- Into what are people placed?
- God Himself is the caller. Through the Person of Jesus Christ, we are summoned for deep and lasting friendship with God. In this way, Church (ekklesia) is not a group or club that we join based on our decision is participate as much as we are claimed by God as His own. The ekklesia is those whom Christ has called to Him, to live as His Body, to be grafted to Himself.
- The ekklesia is those called from everything opposed to God’s glorious design: hatred, violence, division, deception, exploitation, the darkness of sin. Christ has called us out of this way of living. The ekklesia is rescued from ungodly forces that demean, discourage and disfigure us. The ekklesia has been liberated from every fowl and sinister power seeking to devour and destroy us. How different is our way of choosing, seeing, speaking and acting from those still wedded to the world?
- The ekklesia is called into something new. As Christ established His Church, we now have a distinctive way of living. Christ’s summons is not to escape the world as it is to transform it. The ekklesia moves and acts in Christ. This new way of living in Christ is to mark every aspect of our lives.
We are on the winning side. No matter how bad it gets and no matter how intense the struggle rages against personal sin, the forces of evil will not conquer the ekklesia. Let there be no doubting that we are playing on the winning team.