To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.
~ 1 Corinthians 1:2(NIV)
What is the church? Is it a building of brick and mortar that Christians meet in? Is it a group of Christians who own that building? Or is it something else?
We usually use the word church to refer to buildings or Christian denominations, but the Bible uses the word church differently. In Scripture the word church either refers to a group of people who believe in Jesus or the grand total of all believers in every time and place. Today’s verse makes this point in an interesting way.
Paul greets the church in Corinth as those who are “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” That means they have been made holy, a word that means pure or sinless. Their sins made them impure and sinful, but they were sanctified when the Holy Spirit gave them faith in Christ. That is why they are also “called to be holy”—not because they never sin, but because by faith their sins are forgiven, and they are covered with Jesus’ holiness.
The church of God in Corinth, then, is a group of people who believe in Jesus. But Paul also makes it clear that the church is not limited to them. It includes “all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There are people everywhere who believe in Christ and pray to him. He is Lord of them all, and you are included! Like the Corinthians, you are holy, even though your life does not always look like it. The way you treat others, the way you talk, or what you do when no one is looking—all these things look the opposite of holy.
But God doesn’t call you holy because of how you look. He calls you holy because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for you. In Christ you are called holy, blameless, sinless, perfect. You are as much a part of Christ’s church as the Corinthians because the holy Christian Church is all those everywhere who believe in Jesus as their Savior.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me faith in Christ and calling me into the holy Christian Church. Amen.