God’s Transcendent Vision for His Church by Michael L. Brown for Ask Dr Brown
The Church of Jesus – meaning, the community of believers worldwide, through all generations – is utterly transcendent. It has been purchased at the highest imaginable price – the blood of the Son of God – and it consists of hundreds of millions of redeemed men and women from every background and ethnicity and color. Those who are part of this blood-bought community live in every nation on the earth, yet their ultimate citizenship is in heaven. They are in this world but not of it.
Those of us who are part of this community are united, but not by any earthly creed or national anthem. We are united based on our shared citizenship in God’s heavenly kingdom and our joint status as sons and daughters in His heavenly family. And our real “home city” is not the city of our natural birth or current earthly dwelling. Rather, it is a city that is, quite literally, out of this world (see Hebrews 12:22-24).
We are even called “the bride of Christ” in Scripture, meaning that corporately, we are joined with Him in spirit, as a husband and wife are joined together by mutual love (see Ephesians 5:25-27).
What a bright future awaits this sacred community of believers, a future in which we will be completely holy and without fault or blemish of any kind.
We are also likened to a body – specifically, “the Body of Christ” – meaning that we become one with Him, extensions of His very person, functioning in this world as His hands and feet and eyes and ears and mouth, so to say (see 1 Corinthians 12:27, ESV). That’s why it is a grave sin to join ourselves to that which is unclean and defiling (see 1 Corinthians 6:15-20; see also 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.
Coming from a different angle, Peter emphasized our calling to be priests and living stones in God’s temple. Not only are we the Messiah’s family, the Messiah’s bride, children of God, citizens of an eternal, heavenly kingdom, and members of the Messiah’s Body, but we are also “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9; see also 2:5-6).
That’s why Peter writes to us as “sojourners and exiles,” meaning that we are just passing through this world. And that’s why he urges us not to mingle with the sins of the world. Instead, he calls us to live differently in order to bring glory to God (see 1 Peter 2:11-12).
To say it again: We live in this world, but we are not of this world. Our spirit is different. Our mentality is different. Our greatest goals are different. Our methods are different. Even our ultimate allegiance is different, since for us, there is something higher than the national flag or the team motto or the company slogan. Jesus and Jesus alone is our Lord, and we do not bow the knee to anyone but Him.