William Boekestein and Daniel Hyde Write:
We may be accustomed to thinking of individual Christians as being the possession of Christ; we confess, “that I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ” (HC, Q&A 1). But, not only are individual Christians bought with the blood of Christ, so is the church as a whole (Acts 20:28). This is expressed in a classic hymn:
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation by water and the Word;
From heaven he came and sought her to be His holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her, and for her life He died.
Christ gave his life for his bride, which is the entire body of the elect (Ephesians 5:25–27). This identity-in-Christ has profound implications for the church.
First, this teaches us that Christianity is not just a “me and Jesus thing.” If I am a believer then I am a member of the body of Christ (Romans 12:3–8) and must live out my Christian life in a covenantal, church context (Romans 12:9–21). It doesn’t take long to realize that life in the church is not easy; other Christians are not always easy to get along with. In times of frustration I need to remember that I am not the sole possession of Christ. His blood has also graciously covered those who annoy, frustrate, injure, and sometimes hate me. As Paul says, “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13) precisely because he gave his life for that other sinner.
Second, regardless of our personal view of the church, “as far as God is concerned, nothing in the whole world is more precious than the church of Jesus Christ.” If we could share God’s perspective we would stop grumbling about the church. We would, instead, have a much higher view of the church than we presently do. Yes, the church militant is fraught with wrinkles. But the church is Jesus’ wife (Ephesians 5:25–33; Revelation 19:6–9). Imagine the audacity of openly criticizing and grumbling against the wife of one of your best friends. Unthinkable! Why is it that we are so free to grumble against the bride of Christ? Perhaps we forget the implications of our identity.
Third, the church owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Lord (Romans 8:12). Our obligation, not only as individuals, but as members of Christ’s body working together, is to do whatever we can to glorify him. is urgent sense of gratitude should keep from neglecting to participate in service opportunities within the local body.