The Church was born on Pentecost (Acts 2).
For the first time in the history of mankind God chose to indwell all of his followers with his personal presence. For the Apostle Paul the defining reality of a person who belongs to Christ is the presence of the Holy Spirit within them – “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9b). Paul divides all of humanity by either being “in the flesh” (i.e. unsaved) or “in the Spirit” (i.e. saved) – “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9a). Every person who has believed the gospel message of Jesus has been forgiven of their sin and received the promised life of God through his Spirit.
From Pentecost forward, God’s redemptive mission for mankind has been advanced by his human ambassadors who carry his personal presence into every home, every workplace, every relationship, and every conversation.
God’s design is that his Church, expressed individually, congregationallly, and collectively, would be a winsome visible witness of the grace and truth of Jesus by embodying and communicating the gospel. Paul celebrates the collective Church in Thessalonica by affirming the influence they have had. He writes, “you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything” (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8). The unified witness of the Church of the City in Thessalonica had a regional, national, and international impact.
For years, the Church in the west has been largely entrenched in a congregationally focused view of the Body of Christ. New Testament exhortations to love one another, serve one another, forgive one another and even be willing to die for one another are routinely applied directly to the local congregation of the preacher – completely ignoring that they were originally directed to the collective Church of the city.
There is, however, a thrilling movement of the Holy Spirit taking place, awakening Christ’s followers to their essential identity as collective members of His singular Body and responsible to carry out the desires and commands of the Head, who is Christ. I believe the uniting of the Body of Christ in cities around the world, is the defining movement of the Holy Spirit in these last days before Christ’s return.
I invite you to become an active participant in this movement of the Spirit by engaging God in two courageous ways.
- Pray. Ask the unified triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to awaken you to his design and desire for the collective visible witness of the Body of Christ.
- Read. Begin reading Paul’s epistles (noting to whom the are addressed (the collective Church of the city) and start envisioning what the commands and exhortations would look like if they were carried out among the churches of your community.
We, at City Church Unite, would love to hear about your discoveries and be a source of encouragement as well. We invite you to use the form below to share your comments. – Tracy Weaver