According to Ephesians chapter one the church is the body of Christ and his fullness is in it. Jesus is the singular head of the church.
In chapter two of Ephesians the theme is the amazing grace of God. We are all guilty of sin. But God’s grace is available to all so that by grace through faith our sins can be forgiven and we become God’s new creation for good works that He before ordained that we should walk in them.
There has been terrible divisions between different people in the world. One of the best illustrations of this division is the wall of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles.
The Jews saw themselves as God’s chosen people and regarded the gentiles as flawed and inferior. Jesus came to bring reconciliation between people of all backgrounds God. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13) He made the two different kinds of people one, destroying the wall that was dividing them, the law of commandments in the Old Covenant. Through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross all our sins can be freely forgiven and we can have a close personal relationship with God based Christ’s righteousness.
But the reconciliation isn’t just between us and God, but also between us and other people. You can’t come close to God while keeping a wall between you and other people who are living for Him. Because of what Jesus did on the cross all people have the same standing before God. All sin and need forgiveness and his blood is available to cleanse any of us when through faith we turn to him in repentance and obedience. When reconciliation takes place it results in the hostility that has been there being done away with. If God can forgive all of our sins how could we withhold forgiveness for anyone else? All people now have access to the Father by one Spirit. “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:19-20)
So the church in the Bible is the fullness of Christ, his body and under his headship. It is a place for coming together as people from all different backgrounds, ages, social standing and problems. It is God’s family. Also, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21-22)
What do you think of when you picture a temple? Is it some huge ornate building in which the voices heard are muted? Do you imagine scenes painted on the walls that show Jesus on the cross or being raised from the dead? The temple is God’s sanctuary. It is his dwelling place. Understanding that, it is clear why the church is called the temple of God. It isn’t about our buildings or how they are decorated. Its about God living in us. Through the Holy Spirit God lives in the church and works to pull the disciples closer to God and to one another. Notice it says, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple.” The unity of the body makes it a fit dwelling place for God.
This means that to claim to be God’s church while allowing prejudice to keep us away from different people because of their racial, social, educational or political background is to fool ourselves. The church is a place for pulling people together not a place for our exclusive crowd. It is not a country club with a spiritual bent. The very thought of being a place where God lives should be life changing for us. To see this dwelling of God as the church building where we meet is to miss the point completely. It is the people who are the church. God lives in us personally and as a body of people.