The Mind of Christ (6)
“…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16.18
When people share the same views, ideas, goals, and convictions, we say they’re on the same page, or pursuing the same agenda. The Lord Jesus has an agenda, and all who have the mind of Christ will be concerned to make His agenda theirs.
Exalted in glory at the Father’s right hand, Jesus Christ is pursuing the agenda He declared on the outskirts of Caesarea-Philippi: He is building His Church. He has sent His Spirit into His people and given them His Word and His mind, so that they might take up His agenda and carry on the work He began while He was among us. Christ is fitting us to glorify God, seek and save the lost, and encourage and equip our fellow- disciples for lifestyles of worship and ministry. And the way we make sure we’re attending to all these things is by engaging with Christ in the work of building His Church.
The Church is the sign of the Kingdom of God, Christ’s billboard to the world that a new realm has come, and a new rule is unfolding on earth as it is in heaven. And the Church is the outpost from which that Kingdom makes progress against the dark night of sin (1 Jn. 2.8). The importance of the Church thus lies in its crucial role in realizing, proclaiming, and advancing the rule of Christ unto righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, on earth as it is in heaven (Rom. 14.17, 18; Matt. 6.10). God has called us to His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12), and the Church, the Body of Christ, is the temporal arena within which we pursue and realize that calling.
Alas, many believers and churches have lost sight of the Kingdom and have embraced, rather than the mind of Christ for building His Church, pragmatic means for unworthy ends, leaving the Church today captive to the mindset and priorities of an unbelieving age.
Building the Church
The work of building the Church requires the mind of Christ. It is a primary reason why we have been given the mind of Christ, in the form of His Word and Spirit. If we’re thinking with the mind of Christ, we’re thinking about what we can do to contribute to the work of building His Church. The members of Christ’s churches must be equipped in their minds – and in their souls and bodies – to understand the will of God and take up the work of ministry with the people immediately around them.
We cannot satisfy the intentions of Christ for the mind He has given us until we begin serving others in His Name with a view to building His Church (cf. Eph. 4.11-16). The Church is the Body of Christ, and just as my mind is careful to plan and care for the wellbeing of my body, so the mind of Christ in the Church is set on building-up His Body to the praise of the glory of God’s grace.
In the New Testament, the Church appears in four expressions – as a household and neighborhood entity, a local congregation made up of many house churches, a regional church consisting of many congregations (as the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3), and as the Church universal. With so many levels of Church, each of us can find some way to contribute to the growth and health of the Body of Christ, and to devote our minds to Jesus’ agenda.
An important goal for building the Church – and a difficult one to keep in view and to realize (Eph. 4.3) – is achieving visible unity of the Body of Christ despite its many and varied manifestations locally and throughout the world. When the world sees the oneness of the Body of Christ, it will believe that God has sent Jesus for the salvation of the world (Jn. 17.21).
A healthy, growing Church
Christ is calling every believer to join with Him in building His Church. But what does the Church look like as it is being built-up? Paul tells us that a healthy, growing church is characterized by two dominant traits: It is increasing in unity, and it is growing in maturity (Eph. 4.13-16). These are qualitative measures indicating the increased presence of the divine economy within a community (cf. Acts 2-6). How unlike the kind of “church growth” goals churches tend to pursue in our day! The better we understand these concepts, the more we will be able to contribute to the work of building the Church.
Jesus prayed in His high priestly prayer that His followers, who are all members of His Church, might be one. He has sent His Spirit to give us a bond of unity so that in what we believe, how we care for one another, and how we worship the Lord, our oneness might be visible to the watching world (Jn. 17.21). The chronic disunity among Christians and churches is contrary to the mind of Christ and detrimental to our witness in the world. All who possess the mind of Christ must therefore use their minds to strengthen the unity of the Church in ways appropriate to their own callings. We must deplore the divisiveness that characterizes the Church of our Lord in these last days, and give ourselves to thinking, praying, planning, and collaborating with other believers for the greater unity of the Body of Christ.
But we must also think, plan, and work to help the Church become mature: strong in truth, faithful in witness, sacrificial in love, and growing in character and numbers year by year. Thus the Church, at every level of its existence, expresses the reality of the living Christ to the world.
Building the Church must be a high priority for all who possess the mind of Christ, for this is the agenda on which Jesus has set His mind from the right hand of God.
We are building the Church when, using the mind of Christ, we work to bring greater degrees of unity and maturity into the Body of Christ by as many means and in as many ways as our minds can think and our opportunities permit.
The Church doesn’t grow simply because we want it to grow. It takes careful planning, thoughtful preparation, efficient ministry, and diligent review to help the Church grow consistently in unity and maturity. But this is why Jesus has given us His mind, that we might think more pointedly, plan more specifically, and work more reflectively toward realizing this great challenge and calling.
1. What opportunities exist for you to contribute to building Christ’s Church?
2. What can you do to help the Church grow in unity?
3. What can you do to help the Church grow in maturity?
Next steps – Preparation: How do your church leaders determine the health of your church at any given time? What criteria do they use? How do they focus ministry activities to improve the health of the local church? Talk with your pastor or some church leaders about these questions.
T. M. Moore
We are called to serve the people who are in our Personal Mission Field. Watch this brief video (click here) to learn more, then download the worksheet, and map out your Personal Mission Field.
All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here. Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).
Have today’s churches become captive to minds other than the mind of Christ? This is the question we address in our book, The Church Captive. You can order a free copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.