Pastor Kuru started a discussion on what the church is by quoting French Roman Catholic theologian Alfred Loisy's most famous saying: "Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom, and what arrived was the Church".
[Note: Loisy did think that Jesus intended to form some sort of society or community. It was the aping of civil government that he doubted Jesus intended].
Members reflected on this saying and felt that it wasn’t that the Church had hijacked what Jesus started, but that churches don’t measure up to what Jesus wanted the Church to be.
Kuru interjected with Scriptures to show that Jesus wanted the Church to exist:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18).
Peter did not think the Lord meant that he was the rock on which the Church would be built:
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5)
To the question “what is the church”, members said that it is
· the Body of Christ that must give expression to who Christ is and what He came for so that the watching world could know Him, and
· an assembly of believers.
Kuru picked up on the fact that the church is supposed to be a fellowship of believers, to ask whether everyone was a believer. He pointed out that for those who are good people it is difficult to accept the idea that they need Jesus as their Saviour. They tend to think that the wicked (robbers, murderers and sex offenders) are the types that need to do that.
During his summer vacation Kuru was reading Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God. Keller refers to a character in Flannery O’Connor’s novel, Wise Blood
having “a deep, black wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.” Keller comments, “This is a profound insight. You can avoid Jesus as Saviour by keeping all the moral laws. If you do that, then you have ‘rights.’ God owes you answered prayers, and a good life, and a ticket to heaven when you die. You don’t need a Saviour who pardons you by free grace, for you are your own Saviour” (Hodder, 2008, pp. 37-38).
Kuru pointed out that most church folks suffer from the same malady of imagining that they don’t need Jesus. Kuru shared his testimony of how having grown up in a very devout Christian family, and having attended church and Sunday School without fail, he still needed to receive Jesus into his life. He referred to John Wesley having to do that even though he was a respectable ordained minister of the Church of England , that Martin Luther had to accept justification by faith even though he was an ordained minister of the Roman Catholic Church
Kuru urged the members of Grace Bible Church to become an assembly of believers so that they could be the Body of Christ expressing all that Christ Jesus wants other people to know about the saving power of Christ.