As the sovereign creator of all things, of course, God is in control of every human endeavor. And yet, there is one earthly institution that God is uniquely and personally invested in.
It is the church.
In Revelation 22:16 — the very last chapter of the Bible — Jesus explains his reason for giving John this series of heavenly visions that make up the book of Revelation. He says, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches.”
For the churches! This is no small thing.
As Jesus looks down on the earth, he has a unique concern for “the churches” — the collection of all true Christ-exalting local churches spread across the globe. Now, consider – Why would Jesus testify in this way to “the churches?" Why not just hand these visions down to all Christians on earth, individually? Ultimately, it’s because Jesus does something unique and profound through the church. His purposes for this world are bound up with this worldwide collection of local churches. Since his death and resurrection, they always have been.
We often miss this, don’t we?
We assume that God is so big and powerful that he will accomplish his purposes through whatever means he chooses at any given time. And of course, to some extent, this is true. When we assume this, we often miss the unique and eternal significance that God has given to the church and the church alone. Yes, God can and does work through any number of people and organizations. But there is only one earthly institution that he died to create — only one that will withstand the redeeming fires of the Last Day.
The church is the culmination of God’s redemptive work which spans thousands of years. It is one of — if not the — primary byproduct of the gospel. These things cannot be said of any other earthly institution. The church is not simply a man-made tool that we use to advance the cause of Christ; the church itself is central to the cause.
When we show up to church each Sunday, we directly participate in an ongoing work that God himself came down from heaven to begin. We are members of the people whom God set out to redeem before the foundation of the world. We come together as the heavenly household of God, through whom he will glorify himself for all of eternity.
We should come to church with a real sense of reverence and wonder, then. God is at work in our midst. He has a unique concern for the life and ministry of your local church. This may not be easy to see in the day-to-day grind of church life — the mediocre sermons, the small talk, the ministry meetings, etc. When we zoom out to consider what Scripture tells us about the church and why it exists, it’s pretty hard to miss:
We are taking part in the almighty God’s plan to redeem and restore his creation. We are being gathered and formed into an eternal and everlasting kingdom — this Sunday.
We should be amazed.