by Michael E. Brooks
“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things thourgh Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:8-11 NKJV emphasis mine).
In a recent first visit to Kolkata, India I was given instructions on how to find the place where I was to meet a local brother. The directions included the name of a cinema which, the brother stated, “is a local landmark, well known to all.”
It is always convenient to have some prominent feature to refer to in searching for a location. The bigger, brighter, and better known it is, the easier it is to find the desired place.
Lost humanity all over the world is searching for God, truth, security, and meaning in life. They exert great effort and travel to all corners of the world in search of those things, often without success. They need a landmark to help them identify and find the object of their search.
In God’s wisdom, he created just such a landmark. It is called the church. His church is “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), shining brightly for all to see, directing their paths toward God. The church is “a city that is set on a hill,” occupying a position higher and nobler than common material institutions.
God’s church was built specifically to serve as an instrument by which God would be fully known to all the world, with all his eternal characteristics. The church demonstrates God’s wisdom, power and love for all to come to faith in him.
For such purposes to be fulfilled, the church must stand tall and shine brightly. Not only must it teach God’s word truly and without corruption, the church must also be pure and holy, just as God is holy.
Ancient Israel was once God’s chosen people. They were commanded, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). If this principle applied to them how can it be any less urgent for God’s people today (cf Hebrews 2:1-4)?
In describing his faithful followers as a city on a hill, however, Jesus makes another important point. A light is of little value unless it is seen and for that it must occupy a prominent place. “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matthew 5:15).
The church cannot be a secondary thought in the lives of Christians. It cannot be something to which only a little time or resource is given. The church which Jesus built is not a material institution or a man-made organization. It is the assembly of all who are saved by the Gospel of Christ.
The church, which is also the Kingdom of God, is not a kingdom of this world (John 18:36) but is found in the hearts and souls of believers. For it to shine brightly such believers must be totally committed to God and to his Son. His kingdom must have prominence in their lives (Matthew 6:33). Only then will others see God’s landmark and find the goals for which they are searching.
by Michael E. Brooks