Building the Bride of Christ

The earth-shattering commitment of the early believers was to follow Christ recklessly! Their abandonment to Christ is what made them uncontrollable in the eyes of most civil leaders! While God’s moral law was held in high esteem by these spiritual “renegades,” they had little respect for rules and theologies that took the individual’s focus off the Lord Jesus Christ. If principles and practices in any way obscured Him, they were seen as not only unnecessary, but downright dangerous; heretical!

High priests, Pharisees, and religious Jews became their first enemies. In later years the Roman kings, governors, magistrates, and bailiffs joined hands to restrain the fire. Later still, all the forces of Catholicism and Protestantism were directed at them in an attempt to undermine the loyalty that existed there. Their passion was a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ!

It was this overriding, all consuming spiritual fire in their souls that brought to birth and nurtured the most glorious Bride the world has ever known: the Church of Jesus Christ. Deserting all other loves, these men and women focused their eyes upon a singular Face. Since they all looked into His eyes with unblemished love, He called them, collectively, His Bride.

This “called out” group has become the primary focus of Jesus Christ. No one on earth has the attention from the Eternal Prince like she does. Paul records that Christ is sanctifying her with His words, His whisperings, and His washings. Daily, she is being changed from one level of glory to greater levels of glory. She is glorious, and continues to become more resplendent! She is becoming more integrated with Him. That integration creates the entity we call the local church.

The true calling of a missionary will never be to establish the local church as the primary focus and goal of evangelism. Whenever the crucial focus of believers moves away from glorifying Christ and enjoying Him, apostasy has come. Yet, as Christ taught us that the greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, He followed immediately by saying that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. While Christ is exalted and obeyed primarily, His bride is due the secondary position. She is exalted in glory in that she has become His helping mate. She rides in His saddle as co-conqueror with Him. She becomes His human representation upon earth. No isolated individual can accurately impersonate the Bride. We do that collectively.

Therefore, every attempt at evangelism, ministry, and mission work must directly link to the establishment and glorifying of the church or it will find itself at odds with the purposes of Christ. Embracing fellow believers in the tight-knit brother/ sister relationships is not an optional component of Christian living. It links to the very core reality of what being converted and born of God is all about. Therefore, mission work that produces spiritual babes but makes little or no provision for those “new born” children to enter immediately into the care and love of a local church, cannot help but flounder. This is not to say that one cannot be a Christian without being directly linked to a local church. One can be born physically without a functioning family. The same can be true in spiritual birth. But it is to say that it is not God’s intention that he or she be born with such circumstances.

This reality has prompted the IGo Board to place this track of our ministry along side the others in our initial Asian work. Not only is brotherhood essential to the native believers who commit their lives to Jesus Christ as lord and savior, but it is equally essential to the expatriate missionary. All Christian development and growth involves relating with other believers in impacting and sanctifying ways. Each missionary, missionary in training, teacher, staff person, as well as convert must, by the necessity of God’s ordained design, be connected significantly with a local church.

By Val Yoder, IGo Administrator (I Witness News/Fall 2005)

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