Every church has a face.
Mention First Baptist Church of Atlanta, GA, and immediately Dr. Charles Stanley comes to mind. Reference Thomas Road Baptist Church of Lynchburg, VA, and you think of Dr. Jerry Falwell. Of course, many other examples could be given.
Perhaps, if I could mention the churches you have attended in your past, what face would come to mind? The face of a pastor, deacon, Sunday School teacher, worship leader, youth leader, etc.? When you think of that face, it probably brings joy or sorrow, contentment or criticism, or a variety of other emotions.
Truth is, the face of every true, biblical church is Jesus Christ. The church is the Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:27 states, Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
A church is to grow into Christ in such a way that it fulfills the provision and mandate of Ephesians 4:11-16, And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
I totally understand that when you look at a church you see people. But in reality, you should see Christ . . .
- Saving depraved, darkened, desperate, repentive sinners (Luke 13:5; 19:10; Romans 3:10-23; Colossians 1:12-14).
- Transforming His children into Christlikeness as they look into the mirror of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 3:18) and humble themselves under mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6b-7).
- Interceding for His children as they pour out their hearts to God in prayer (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1).
- Carrying on His ministry through His servants (Acts 1:1-2 and following) albeit they are weak and needful of His daily, sufficient, sustaining grace (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 3:5-9; 2 Corinthians 9:8).
- Nourishing and cherishing His church as the body submits to the Chief Shepherd and to one another (Ephesians 5:23-30).
- Gathering His people together for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), discipleship (Ephesians 4:11-16), and the numerous “one another’s” (Romans 12:9-16; 15:7, 14; Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 4:9; to name a few).
- Restoring broken homes and marriages (Romans 5:1-21; Ephesians 5:18-33).
- Being the life of the church (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:14; Colossians 3:4).
- Chastening, cleansing, and identifying those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-15).
There is so much more that could be said, so much more that Christ wants to do in His Church. Even when we mess up, act like little immature children, make wrong choices, complain, criticize, get angry, etc., in the church, the sovereignty of God and the gospel can work through the sin and selfishness to accomplish His redemptive plan for His glory and our good.
The face of the church is Christ; the Christ who transforms, transcends, and triumphs over all sin and man (Romans 5:20; 2 Corinthians 2:14). Look for His face not man’s.