At the beginning of the book of Job, God points to Job and his faithfulness to Him as a demonstration of the goodness of God’s ways and His dealings with fallen humanity (see Job 1:8). It is remarkable that God allows His reputation to hang on how His people live their lives on this earth. But Paul expanded this faith God has in some of His “saints” to include the community of the church: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 3:10, NIV).
Read Ephesians 2:19. What do you think is included in the idea of describing the church community as the “household” of God? How should this description influence how the organized church operates?
In any community or organization, how that entity treats its members reflects the foundational values of the group. As the household of God, the body of Christ and the community of the Spirit, the church has the highest of callings to live out and live up to: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people” (1 Cor. 14:33, NIV).
The values of justice, grace, and love—as demonstrated in God’s justice, grace, and love—should govern all that happens within the church. From local church communities to the worldwide church organization, these principles should guide church leaders in how they lead, make decisions, and care for the “least of these” among the church community. They should also guide how we resolve the disputes that arise from time to time among members. If we can’t treat those among us with fairness and dignity, how are we going to do that with others, as well?
Where the church organization employs people, it should be a generous employer, valuing people before any other consideration and working against unfair treatment of members. Churches should be safe places, with all church members doing what they can to protect the vulnerable. And, as we see in the early church, members of the church community should be especially prepared to give to support those of their church “family” who are suffering or in need.
Jesus gave this as a command, saying that not only would this transform the community of faith, it would also demonstrate the reality of their faith to those looking on: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35, NIV).