The catholic Church
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.- Matthew 16:18
I believe in…the holy catholic Church- The Apostle Creed
For those of you who know me, you are probably sitting there wondering why in the world did I entitle my blog like this? And what does that have to do with the Scripture and the creed I started with. I find that in my Evangelical circles that we often times focus on the local church and forget the importance of the universal church. The word catholic (small c) means universal and thus simply means the entire body of believers throughout the world. I think that the importance of this concept is sadly missed in our circles. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about the local church as it is the expression of the universal church to the community, but I think sometimes we need to step back and realize that we are part of something bigger.
That is one thing that I love about working at YMI, I get to work with believers from all around the world. It constantly reminds me of how universal the church is and how big and great our God is. Rather it is talking to believer in India or meeting with Missionaries in Ireland or to corresponding with church planters in Africa, it is apparent that the Church is alive and it is growing. When Jesus was talking to Peter, He was referring to the universal church of which every local church was apart of. The Church leaders who wrote out the apostle creed in first few centuries of the Church recognized the importance of the global body of believers. This has always been a crucial doctrine within the realm of Christianity. It is what unites us and gives us closer bonds with a complete stranger who is a believer than with our closest unbelieving friend.
In this day of globalization and social networking, one would think that the Church would be more connected than ever. Sadly, this is not the case. The local church is feeling the need to focus on its community more and more and reaching those around them. This is good, but it cannot come at the expense of serving the universal body of believers either. While we must strive to impact our local communities but we should serve the universal church too. Take your church on a missions trip to serve one of your own missionaries or a missionary in general. It is important that every local congregation recognize the global aspect of our God. The God that believer in Jesus worship in Uganda is the same God that believers in Jesus worship here in the USA. This concept changed my life back when I was in high school. Worshiping with believers in Ukraine sing a song in English while they sang it in Russian suddenly opened up my eyes to how great our God is! It stirred up a passion to spread the gospel of this great God around the world and I have not lost this passion to this day.
I would like to end with this passage:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
This is going to be one of the most amazing parts of heaven, besides being in the presence of God Himself, the aspect of how God’s plan was so universal and cross cultural. There will be people literally from every place on earth. There will be all sorts of expressions of worship and cultural customs worshiping God. There will be Evangelical, main line churches, and yes there will be some Catholics too. This is not an excuse to be all inclusive and not take stands for truth and doctrine, but it is a reason to stop and ask, am I excluding fellow brother in Christ because we don’t agree on everything? Maybe we need to take a look at the universal Church from our local church and work together more to share Jesus Christ with our local communities. May the Name of Jesus be exalted forever through the Church around the world. Amen
Posted on September 23, 2011, in Church, Devotional, International, Missions, Youth Missions International and tagged apostle creed, believers, catholic church, Church, gospel, heaven, mission trips, missions, saints, unity, universal church, YMI. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.