The Church OF Christ: Part 1

  • Read Acts 20:17-38 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon (May 9) you can listen to it here.
  • Follow the discussion here.

I preached this sermon on Mothers’ Day based on the important role that mothers play in giving identity to their children.  Mothers begin this process prior to birth as they consider the names they will give their child.

Churches also have their identity influenced by their names, (or should that be names influenced by their identity?).  The name outside the front of my church reads “Church of Christ”.  Now I don’t imagine that any church in the world would deny that they are a “church of Christ”, but they don’t all select this name.  Why not?  They choose to emphasise something other than their relationship to Christ, which they probably assume as given underlying the word “church”.

One of the more prominent churches in my local community goes by the name of Hope Lutheran Church.  In most people’s mind the word “church” communicates that it’s a Christian fellowship and therefore the centrality of God and Jesus can be assumed.  It’s “Lutheran” because some of its core teachings that distinguish it from other churches can be traced back to Martin Luther.  Finally, they choose the name “Hope” presumably because it provides a positive message that is attractive to people struggling with sin and life.  Having “hope” in their name should constantly remind the church of their mission and message.

The first part of my church’s name is “Lawson Road”.  That’s the name of the small road we’re located on.  It tells the community our address.  It’s not very inspirational.

So for those of us who meet under the name “Church of Christ”, what does this name mean to us?  Does it communicate something about our values?  Does it give us a mission and a message?  I believe the idea of possession should be an important element for us to recognise in this name.

  • Church of Christ, is the same as
  • Christ’s Church, is the same as
  • Church Belonging to Christ, is the same as
  • Church Purchased by Christ.

Sometimes I think that all this name tells us about ourselves is that since the church has the broad goal of “restoring the NT church” we’re proud of the fact that we have a name that’s found in the NT (Rom 16:16).  Is that the primary benefit in having this name?  Do we feel more righteous than other churches because our title is taken straight from the Bible?  Is there more to it than that?

I’m going to preach next week on some of the implications of being the “Church of Christ“, but I’d like to hear your ideas first.

  • How does being “owned” by Christ impact your personal walk with Christ?
  • In Rom 6 we’re told that Christians are “slaves of God”, does that make you uncomfortable?
  • How should a church that emphasises the ownership of Christ, be different from other churches?
  • What biblical themes would you expect a church belonging to Christ to emphasise?

FREE THOUGHT: In Acts 20:28 we find what seems to me to be a strong argument for the deity of Christ and his equality with the Father.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Since we know that in fact, Jesus’ blood was shed, not the Fathers, it seems that Paul’s here calling Jesus, God.  I like finding verses supporting the deity of Christ.  They make me warm and fuzzy inside!

(And yes I do notice the textual possibility that it could read, purchased with the blood of his Own [Son], but it seems strained to me.)

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2 comments

  1. ozziepete

    I asked the same question on Facebook and “A Second Peter” made this comment.

    “I rarely use the word Christ. To most people it’s a surname, and I’m not really finding people use it in reference to the Messiah. I’d be far happier belonging to ‘a group who attempt to do what Jesus did'”

  2. Brian Casey

    Thanks so much for your emphasis a couple of days ago on our belonging to Jesus. Some years ago I came to the opinion that the definition of “Christian” was not “Christ-like” as much as it was “belonging to Christ.” The suffix “ian” seems to imply this: a Bostonian, for example, is not necessarily “like Boston,” but does, in some sense, belong to Boston, or is “of” Boston.

    Of course, being like Jesus is also an imperative, but the primary emphasis on the church’s identity on its being *His* church, belonging to Him, etc., is really very helpful. Once we’re freed simply to be His, then we can get on with the business of being more like Him. I also like the notion of being the “second incarnation.”

    So, in short, I think you said some very good things on Sunday. On target!

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