A Church in Pandemic

We are currently in the unique predicament of being the Church in the midst of a global pandemic. If you’re anything like me, COVID-19 has strapped you to a chair in your house, and you’re beginning to wonder if you will start to fuse with it. To make matters worse, efforts against the virus to “flatten the curve” now prevent us as a church from meeting together. While this is a very smart decision to prevent the further spread of a global pandemic, it does leave the church in an odd position: What does it mean for the Church if it can’t meet together? More questions begin to arise. Can someone be a Christian without being a part of a church? Should the Church continue to meet despite the virus?

This whole situation reminds me of a discussion had in theological social circles a few years ago. In Rod Dreher’s 2017 book, The Benedict Option, Dreher gives a bleak prognosis for the Western Church. Dreher points out that, “according to the Pew Research Center, one in three 18-to-29-year-olds have put religion aside, if they ever picked it up in the first place. If the demographic trends continue, our churches will soon be empty.” These statistics clearly demonstrate that there is something the Western Church needs to do if it is to survive the ever-shifting culture and the near future, virus or not. The root of this downward spiral can be traced back all the way to the Protestant Reformation. According to Dreher, while the Reformation did not itself encourage Christians to separate from the Church, it nevertheless opened the door to such thinking. Dreher suggests that what the church needs, is for believers to “be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs.” Dreher’s suggestion to “be the church” comes with an outlined philosophy of developing a countercultural community of believers called the Benedict Option. In other words, Christians should retreat from the world like the Benedictine monks and demonstrate holiness by this separation. Dreher’s Benedict Option sounds all too ironic given our current social distancing and self-isolation. This proposal by Dreher raises an important question: what should the church be doing? However, there is also a more foundational question to be asked alongside this: what is the Church?

A Google search regarding the question of “What is the Church?” and furthermore “Is church membership needed?” is quite telling. Among the first results is an article by the Christian Broadcasting Network titled, “Is Church Absolutely Necessary?” According to this article, “the short answer is No.”  You don’t need to be a member of a church to be a Christian. Church is simply “God’s way to ensure that his people are both encouraged and mobilized to help others.” Another top article includes one by John Pavlovitz, who also sees the Christian life as outside and separate from the Church. According to Pavlovitz, God meets us where we are at, church or no church. In fact, for some, church might be the very thing inhibiting spiritual growth. New York Times Best Seller Donald Miller describes the Christian’s involvement in church in psychological terms. Miller claims that psychologically, different people have different learning styles. So, church might not be the best way to for some to learn about God. From these articles, it can be demonstrated that the available information to average Christians describes a clear separation between the life of the Christian and the church. In combination with Dreher’s research, it seems that this separation is also the view of the average Western Christian. However, if this is the case, then today we have no dilemma at all. We can cease to meet together, and find no harm to our spiritual lives as a result. Indeed, according to these people, some of us may even grow from this. However, I don’t believe this is what the Bible really has to say on the subject. There really is a dilemma for the Church right now.

Today, we will discuss how the biblical doctrine of union with Christ, being the grounds for all other aspects of the ordo solutis, underlies not only soteriology, but also provides a more impactful description of the relationship between believers and the Church. This union with Christ is described throughout the New Testament in a variety of ways. These will be looked at throughout this paper in the general categories of abiding in Christ, adoption, death and life in Christ, the Body of Christ, the relation of the believer to Christ, and the relation of the believer to the Church.

The ordo salutis is the theological term that simply refers to the order of salvation. Each of the aspects described in the ordo salutis can be described in terms of union with Christ. Therefore, union with Christ defines the believer’s life as an individual Christian. Additionally, if all believers are individually unified with Christ, then union with Him also defines the believer’s corporate life. This is the Church. So then, in the biblical descriptions of unity with Christ, there is no separation between the individual life of the believer and the corporate life of the believer. Various biblical descriptions of unity with Christ will now be examined in detail.

Abiding in Christ refers to the description of believers and Christ, in which Christ is a vine and believers are branches on that vine. This language is the least common of the general biblical descriptions of unity with Christ that will be inspected. Abiding in Christ is mostly seen in Johannine literature. John 15:1-6 is the first of these references. In 15:4, Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Here, Jesus is describing a flow of life and productivity that flows from Him to the believer. John continues to stress this concept in 1 John, describing in 3:24 how the Spirit is the means by which the believer abides with Christ. This is stressed again in 4:13-16.

Apart from John, Paul uses Jesus’ teaching of the vine and its branches in Romans 11:16-17. In this passage, Paul uses this imagery to show how the full number of the elect will be united with Christ as one people. This language shows how believers are unified with Christ by describing them as all being a part of the same plant; that is a vine. There is a sense here given by John 15 in which a branch that is cut off from the vine dies. Additionally, bereft of its branches, the vine will produce no fruit. John 15:8 shows that the vine producing fruit through the branches brings God glory.

Adoption means that believers are adopted into the family of God and are counted as co-heirs with Christ of his divine inheritance. Grudem describes adoption this way, “Adoption focuses much more on the personal relationships that salvation gives us with God and with His people.” He goes on to say, “In fact, this adoption into God’s family makes us partakers in one family even with the believing Jews of the Old Testament, for Paul says that we are Abraham’s children as well.” This makes adoption one of the most central themes of the Bible. This is seen all over the New Testament.

Hebrews 9 :15-17 demonstrates that this adoption and inheritance are a result of covenant membership in the new covenant. Additionally, the treatment believers, as adopted children of God, are due is equated to how Christ was treated. Hebrews first describes in 5:8 how Christ, as a son, learned through his suffering. In the same way, Hebrews 12:3-11 transfers this to believers, declaring it to be the discipline of God as a display of love towards His children. Ephesians 1:11-14 also shows how our adoption and inheritance are sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This inheritance language also points out the eschatological implications of unity with Christ. If Dreher’s historical point on the Reformation leading to a general apathy towards the Church is true, then it may be that the response of Protestants to the Roman Catholic church over the last 500 years has swung ecclesiology too far in the other direction. If this is the case, then it is useful, at least on some points, to consider the Roman Catholic position. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the eschatological nature of the believer’s inheritance in terms of the Church saying, “It is in the Church that Christ fulfills and reveals his own mystery as the purpose of God’s plan: ‘to unite all things in him.’” In other words, only those who are adopted into the family of God will receive the inheritance.

Following Ephesians 1:11-14, Romans 8:12-17 describes the spirit of adoption by which we cry out to our Father, and by which we are conformed into the image of Christ. Sinclair Ferguson describes unity with Christ in adoption saying, “The evidence of this is that in the Spirit ‘we cry “Abba, Father,”’ the implication being that the Christian participates in a communion with God first experienced by Jesus himself.” Galatians 3 expands on this spirit of adoption. 3:16 describes how Abraham was promised a single offspring, and that is Christ. 3:26 says that in union with Christ, believers are sons of God though faith. In adoption, the believer is unified with Christ and so becomes Abraham’s offspring, and heir according to promise. 4:6 describes that all those who are His children are given the Spirit of His Son. 3:26-4:7 can then be summarized. Through our adoption, believers become sons of God because they put on Christ who is the Son. Believers receive the Spirit of the Son from the Father as the seal of adoption. This is the same Spirit by which the Son is unified with the Father. Since, then, believers are unified with Christ through the Spirit, they are adopted as sons of the Father because Christ is Son.

“Death and life in Christ” refers to the death of the sinner and the life of the believer in Christ. Jesus is the first to present this concept in the Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) echo the teaching that those who lose their life for Christ’s sake will find it in Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, and Luke 9:24. Death and life in Christ is also seen in Jesus’ teaching in John 3. Regardless of meaning “born again,” “born from above,” or a double entendre on both, the need for rebirth is clearly described.

Paul describes the death of the sinner in Christ’s death in Romans 6:5-11. Paul’s argument here is as follows: believers are unified with Christ, and if believers are unified with Christ then they have died with Christ. If believers have died with Christ, then they are no longer held to the judgement of the Law against sin, which is death. If the believer’s unity with Christ means death with Christ, then it also means the believer’s resurrection and new life with Christ. If believers have died and are resurrected with Christ, then they are free from the judgement of sin by the Law, which is death, and are now free in life to live to God. Picking apart the argument of Romans 6:5-11 is useful to see the importance of how unity with Christ impacts the Christian life. This argument is restated in 1 Peter 2:24. Galatians 2:20 is perhaps the simplest explanation, with Paul saying, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 gives a different angle on this approach, presenting the concept in terms of an old self that has passed away and a new self, a new creation, that has come.

This old self/new self language is used by Paul elsewhere. Ephesians 4:20-24 says that believers are to put off the old self and “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Colossians 3:9-10 sharpens this to say the new self that is to be put on is “being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Finally, the new self that believers are to put on is seen in focus in Galatians 3:27 as Christ Himself. Romans 6 shows the death and life of the believer as a legal necessity. Galatians 3:27 points to baptism as the symbol of the old self dying and the new self being raised to life in Christ. Both of these concepts are summarized as part of the same process in Colossians 2:11-14.

The Body of Christ is easily the most recognized biblical description of unity with Christ. To quote the Catholic Catechism again, “The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body.” In previous sections, it was seen how the Spirit is the seal of the believer’s adoption and union with Christ, and how baptism represents union in the death and resurrection of Christ. Ferguson connects the union of Spirit with the union of baptism by looking at various references to being baptized in the Spirit in the New Testament. There are a number of passages in the New Testament that refer to baptism as being related to the holy spirit. Ferguson references these baptism passages as follows:

“Matthew 3:11                en pneumati hagio

Mark 1:8                           en pneumati hagio

Luke 3:16                          en pneumati hagio

John 1:33                          en pneumati hagio

Acts 1:5                             en pneumati… hagio

Acts 11:16                         en pneumati hagio

In each of these cases, Christ himself the baptizer. The Spirit is the medium.”

So, the image of the believer being a member of the Body of Christ is seen as early as the baptism of Jesus. If Christ was baptized, then the mandate for the believer to be baptized is seen insomuch as the believer is united with Christ Himself as a member of His body. If Christ was baptized, then there is no way in which a member of His body should be unbaptized. Just as the Spirit descended on Christ at His baptism, Christ baptizes the believer through the Spirit.

The connection between death and resurrection to life in Christ and the Body of Christ is not only seen in baptism, but also in the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 describes how believers are united with Christ as His Body in the Lord’s Supper. This is because believers die with Him and are resurrected with Him due to the qualification that they are members of His Body. Ferguson puts it this way, “Baptism is inaugural and is received only once as a sign of union with Christ. The Lord’s Supper, on the other hand, is a sign of ongoing communion with Christ and is to be received frequently,” and also that, “The heart of the Supper is the broken bread and outpoured wine, which serves as symbols of Christ’s broken body and shed blood.”

Paul fleshes out the Body of Christ in the epistles. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 provides the most detailed explanation of how believers are unified with Christ as His Body. Here too Ferguson is insightful. “In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul’s point is that the body is one because all of its members share in the one Spirit whom they have received simultaneously with their incorporation into Christ’s body.” So, the Spirit is what unites believers to each other and ultimately to Christ. “To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members.” In this way, the members of the Body are knit together, and that Body to Christ as the Head, as seen in Ephesians 4:11-16. Augustine delights in this seamless unity between members, Body, and Head, saying, “Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace towards us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man… The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does ‘head and members’ mean? Christ and the Church.”

Paul describes how the Body of Christ worships and glorifies God in Romans. Romans 12:1-2 describe many bodies being presented as a single sacrifice. Romans 12:4-5 defines those many bodies as members of one body, and this being the Body of Christ. Romans 15:6 says that that Body with one mouth glorify God. In Ephesians 6:11-17, Paul portrays the Body as a soldier, armed for and engaged in spiritual warfare. A still different view of the Body of Christ is that of a building being built with Christ as its foundation in Ephesians 2:10-22. This is a similar view as in 1 Peter 2:5. This building and the Body of Christ are seen as one and the same in Ephesians 1:22-23.

Perhaps the most impactful view of the union of the believer with Christ as a member of His Body is seen in Paul’s analogy of a marriage covenant to illustrate how the new covenant unites believers to Christ. This is described in theory in Ephesians 5:25-32. Here is seen a theological truth that is much more than a mere description of how husbands and wives should interact. Following Paul’s argument from 5:29, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Paul again describes this analogy in practical terms in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17. This incredibly scandalous scenario demonstrates exactly how serious Paul was about the deep and inseparable covenant unity the Body has with Christ. This unity of the Body with Christ serves as the foundation for the biblical equation of believers to Christ, and of believers to the Church.

There are two phenomena seen in the New Testament nearly as much as the Body of Christ. These are that the actions taken by and done to believers are equated as those taken by or done to Christ Himself, and an equivalent relationship between believers and the Church as a whole. Here the first of these will be looked at. Believers being equated with Christ at first may sound very uncomfortable for many Christians. Nonetheless, this is a principle that is taught throughout the New Testament. The concept that actions taken by or done to believers are equated to those so to Christ is first taught by Jesus Himself in the Gospels. In Matthew 10:40, Jesus says, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” Again, in Matthew 25:40-45, Jesus repeats twice, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” In John 17:23, Jesus prays as part of His high priestly prayer, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one,” indicating the unity between believers, Christ, and the Father. In Acts 9:4-5, the glorified Christ claims that Paul’s persecution of believers is actually Paul persecuting Christ Himself. This is reminiscent of John 15:18.

In the epistles, Paul describes how one aspect of believers’ union with Christ is conditional on their suffering alongside Christ’s suffering in Romans 8:17. This is again in line with John 15:18 and other of Christs teaching that His persecution means the persecution of believers. Additionally, Paul describes in Romans 8:29 how this suffering conforms the believer into the image of God’s Son. That image being that of the Suffering Messiah. In Colossians 1:24, Paul brings his personal sufferings alongside Christ’s afflictions.

This equation of believers and Christ is made possible by the marriage already discussed between Christ and the Church: the new covenant. Again, this is clearly seen in Ephesians 5:25-32, where Christ and the Church are described as “one flesh.” Calvin describes it this way, “To this union alone it is owing, that in regard to us, the Savior has not come in vain. To this is to be referred that sacred marriage, by which we become bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, and so one with him (Eph 5:30), for it is by the Spirit alone that he unites himself to us.” Likewise, a return to the scandalous scenario of 1 Corinthians 6:15-17 shows how the actions of believers are as if Christ Himself is doing them. Since this equation with Christ comes as a result of membership in the new covenant, the “one flesh” reference calls to mind Jesus’ warning in regards to this kind of covenant relationship in Mark 10:8-9, “’and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Again, Calvin perceives this, saying “No crime can be imagined more atrocious than that of sacrilegiously and perfidiously violating the sacred marriage which the only begotten Son of God has condescended to contract with us.” This covenant community is described by Gentry and Wellum, “So, since all believers are united with Christ in covenant membership, all believers are likewise united with one another.”

Believer’s Relation to the Church

Just as believers are, in a way, equated with Christ in their actions and experience, believers are also equated to the rest of the Church in the same. This too finds its root in the believer’s unity with Christ. In biblical terms, there is never a sense in which the believer is united with Christ and not with other believers. Mark Dever says it this way, “When he speaks of εκκλησια (ekklesia), [Paul] normally thinks first of the concrete assembly of those who have been baptized at a specific place… Ecclesiological statements that lead beyond the level of the local assembly are rare in Paul’s letters.” Ekklesia is the Greek word we translate as church. It can be said that the very nature of the union believers have with Christ unites them simultaneously with all other believers. This, then, as Dever points out, has just as much implication for the believer’s relationship in the local church as it does in that of the universal Church. This unity with the local church is the strain that we are feeling today.

The Bible describes the unity of believers as being through a few different channels. The first that is found is in the establishment of the Church itself by Jesus in Matthew 16:16-18. As Dever pointed out, the Church is the ekklesia. “The word ekklesia “occurs 114 times in the New Testament… Three times in Matthew, 20 in Acts, 66 in Paul’s writings, once in Hebrews, once in James, and 20 in Revelation.” According to BDAG, εκκλησια is more generally the common term for an assembly. In this sense, it would be a gross exegetical fallacy to define every usage in the New Testament as a reference to the Church. However, we can clearly see that in Matthew 16, Jesus uses this term to describe the covenant-loyal people that He is gathering. Εκκλησια is described as a compound word, stemming from the verb καλεω (kaleo), most commonly meaning “I call,” and the prepositional prefix εκ (ek), which gives a sense of outward action. As such, the ekklesia has often been described as “the called-out ones.” However, a close look at Matthew 16:16-18 shows that Jesus intends to build His people on the confession of Peter regarding Jesus’ identity. If this is to be the interpretation, then Jesus’ usage of ekklesia is not as “the called-out ones,” but rather, probably more accurately, “those who call out,” in reference to Peter’s confession.

So, Matthew 16 describes a people with a particular confession, or creed, as their foundation. Indeed, it can be seen elsewhere in the New Testament how believers are unified in their creed. Romans 15:5-6 has already been looked at, but it can be reviewed to show this unity of creed. As the Body of Christ, the Church must speak in one accord if God is to be glorified. Here there are not “creeds,” indicating division among believers, but rather “one mouth.” Paul builds on the confession of the Church in Ephesians 4:1-6, saying in verse 4, “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” This creed is to “maintain unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The great stress Paul puts on unity is especially seen in the rhetoric of verse 5, transliterated from Greek, “heis kurios, mia pistis, hen baptisma.” Here Paul lines up the masculine, feminine, and neuter forms of “one” in order. This careful construction demonstrates the emphasis Paul is putting on the singular message that the Church is unified on.

Believers are not only unified in their creed, but also as seen in Ephesians 4:5, they are united in baptism. According to Ferguson, “The administration of water baptism is a sign of inauguration.” What is inaugurated is the believer’s membership in the new covenant community. The Old Covenant was sealed by circumcision, but Paul points out the circumcision of the heart that he talks about in Romans 2:25-29 is seen outwardly by the symbol of baptism in Colossians 2:11-12. Baptism is seen as a symbol too of the believer’s unity with the Church, and as Dever puts it, “Ultimately, fellowship among Christians in the church is based on the Christian’s covenantal union with Christ.” The other ordinance of the Church, the Lord’s Supper also has a unifying purpose. Once again, 1 Corinthians 10:17 declares that the many are made one in the Lord’s Supper.

So, the unity of believers is inherent in their unity with Christ. This has major implications for the identity of the believer within the Church. Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11 are similar in describing how all believers, regardless of human characteristic, are one in Christ Jesus. This not only describes the believer’s unity with Christ, but also eliminates divisions between believers, unifying them one with another. Previously, it was shown how the actions of believers are considered the actions of Christ Himself. If this is true, then the unity of the Church also indicates that the actions of believers are considered the actions of the Church itself.

Therefore, the actions of individual members have corporate implications due to their unity with the Church. Being all inseparable members of the Body of Christ, the actions of any individual are equated to those of the whole Church. So, the sin of the believer is counted as the sin of the Church. This is seen by returning to 1 Corinthians 6:15-17. Conversely, the purity of the believer is counted as the purity of the Church, as seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 and 2 Timothy 2:15-21. In regards to these corporate implications, it becomes a biblical necessity for believers to support one another as described in Galatians 6:2.

Finally, all the promises of the new covenant are viewed biblically in the context of the Church. First, the reward for believers is viewed as a corporate reward. This is what Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness… not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” Second, the Christian bringing glory to God is always described in corporate terms. This has already been shown multiple times from Romans 15:6-7 but can also be seen in Ephesians 1:9-12. Lastly, the ultimate fulfillment of the new covenant is in Christ’s return for His Bride, as is described in Revelation 19:6-10 and 21:1-4 as well as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11.

The various biblical descriptions of how unity with Christ underlies the relationships of the believer to Christ and the Church have been shown in detail. These descriptions are immensely important for properly understanding the Christians life. First, understanding unity with Christ shapes an understanding of salvation. Conversion is through being unified with Christ. Next, justification is through unity with Christ. The atonement is substituted to believers because they are unified with Him. Believers are freed from the indictment of the Law because they have died with Him. Believers are imputed the righteousness of Christ because Christ is righteous. Next, Sanctification can be shown as through unity with Christ. Believers are holy because Christ is holy. Believers are conformed into the image of Christ. The old self is dead and now Christ is put on. It is Christ who sanctifies the believer. Next, regeneration is through unity with Christ. Believers are resurrected from death to sin with Christ to eternal life with Christ. Just as all died through the one man, Adam, now all are reborn into new life through the one man, Christ Jesus. Next, perseverance is through union with Christ. Through covenant membership in the new covenant, believers become one flesh with Christ as His Body. What God has joined together, nothing can asunder. There is great hope of this in Romans 8:35-39. Finally, glorification is through union with Christ. This is shown in Ephesians 1:9-12 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13.

These descriptions of the Church in Scripture that we have looked at also show that understanding unity with Christ shapes understanding of the Church. Believers are members of the same Body. Believers are one in Christ. Any attempt to harm or divide the Church is an attack directly on Christ Himself. Additionally, there is no sense in which a body part can be removed from a body and live. Similarly, there is no sense in which a branch can be cut off from a vine and live. Because of this, believers need the Church as much as they need Christ, because it is His Body. This has already been seen in Galatians 6:2, but is also stressed in Hebrews 10:25. Indeed, God works in the believer through the Church. We can see this in the calls of the New Testament to pray for one another and bear one another’s burdens.

Now, we are in a situation where we, as a church who has been so unified by Christ with Christ, is unable to meet as a whole. We saw Mark Dever point out how closely Paul associates believers with their local church, and it is our local churches that have now been crippled by this pandemic. We have been forced to withdraw from the world, but instead of strengthening us as those folks we spoke about in the beginning suggested, many believers find themselves alone and scared. However, we have also seen that not only are believers to be united with one another, but we are all united with Christ, and it is Christ who continues to connect us. Certainly, as we have seen, the Church meeting together and functioning as God’s covenant people towards a lost world is the ideal. However, God is not limited. Even in this time of social distancing and self-isolation, God is still God, and He still unites us with His Son through His Holy Spirit. The Church is still the Church. Our desire and proper posture is to be together, but not being able to does not mean that we cannot still fulfill our function. We can still pray for one another. We can still sing praises to our God. We can still study the word of God. We can still evangelize by being a light to the world around us during this desperate and anxious season. Take this virus as an opportunity to invest in your local church. Call fellow members to see how they’re doing. Pray together over the phone. Groups are limited to <10 right now where I live, but maybe you have another family over for dinner, provided of course that nobody is an exposure risk. We are to be workers ready in season an out of season, yet even now Christ’s words remind us that the harvest is plentiful.

In considering these descriptions of the Church that we looked at today, the current view of the average Christian towards the Church, especially among Protestants, can probably be best diagnosed as lax. While the Reformers themselves held a high view of the Church, the break from the Roman Catholic Church, as Dreher argues, has created the channels of thought that have led to a de-stressing of the Church’s role in the life of the Christian. Today, this virus will expose that lax attitude in many people’s lives. These biblical descriptions point out first, that the Church needs to be seen by believers as their own family and flesh. Even more so, the Church needs to be seen by believers as the very Body of Christ. It is critical to note that the Bible never presents these descriptions as mere metaphors, but rather spiritual realities. As a result, when the Church is defined biblically, there is an incredible urgency placed on the Christian. An urgency for holy living, community living, and even for evangelism. For indeed, the Church needs to be the Church, virus or not.

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