The church

086 the churchA beautiful biblical image speaks of the Church as the Bride of Christ. Through symbolism in various scriptures, including the Song of Solomon is played on it. A key passage is Song of Songs 2,10-16, where the bride's lover says her winter time has passed and now the time to sing and enjoy (see also Hebr 2,12), and also where the bride says, "My friend is mine and I am his "(Hl 2,16). The Church belongs to Christ both individually and collectively and belongs to the Church.

Christ is the Bridegroom who "loved the Church and gave Himself up for her," so that she was "a glorious church, with no stains or wrinkles, or anything like that" (Eph. 5,27). This relationship, says Paul, "is a great mystery, but I interpret it to Christ and the church" (Eph 5,32).

John takes up this theme in the book of Revelation. The triumphant Christ, the Lamb of God, marries the Bride, the Church (Rev 19,6-9, 21,9-10), and together proclaim the words of life (Rev 21,17).

There are additional metaphors and images that are used to describe the church. The Church is the flock that needs caring shepherds who care for the example of Christ (1Pt 5,1-4); it is a field where workers are needed to plant and water (1Kor 3,6-9); the church and its members are like vines on a vine (Joh 15,5); the church is like an olive tree (Rom 11,17-24).

As a reflection of the present and future kingdom of God, the church is like a mustard seed that grows into a tree where the birds of heaven find refuge (Lk 13,18-19); and like sourdough making its way through the dough of the world (Lk 13,21), etc.

The Church is the body of Christ and consists of all those who are recognized by God as members of the "communities of saints" (1Kor 14,33). This is significant to the believer, because participation in the church is the means by which the Father preserves us and sustains us until the return of Jesus Christ.

by James Henderson