By Robert Halsey Pine
“Then one of the seven angels…came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’” (Revelation 21:9-21 NRSV).
We all belong to The First United Wife of the Lamb Church. The angel showed John the radiant “holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” This image was the image of the Church. The Church is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And as the bride of the Lamb, the Church is the Body of Christ.
The Christian Church, and the many denominations that make it up, aren’t just a bunch of organizations or institutions. The Church through Christ the Lamb is the daughter-in-law of the living God. The Church is alive through this living Father-in-law. Build buildings as you will, but we the members are the Church. The members can make it fine without the buildings, but the buildings are nothing without the members and God.
Institution in the Christian sense is a transitive verb and not a noun. Jesus instituted the sacraments and other signs into the Church. This kind of institution has action. The true measure of the Church or any of its parts is how the assets and the organization are used to evangelize the world to Christ. We are called as members of the Body of Christ to put wheels under all that we have and take our ministry with us. This means inside and outside the Church and its parts.
As the body of Christ or the wife of the Lamb if you choose, the Church is the sum of all the actions of its members. As members of the Church we must ask ourselves, “Are we an institution or are we instituting? Are we fluid or are we stagnant? Can it be said of today’s Church, “It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal”? Remember that we are the Church!
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.