A Community of Living Members
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 21
What do you believe concerning “the holy catholic church”?
I believe that the Son of God through his Spirit and Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith. And of this community I am and always will be a living member.
What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts. Second, that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members.
What do you believe concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
I believe that God, because of Christ’s atonement, will never hold against me any of my sins nor my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life. Rather, in his grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ to free me forever from judgment.
A Community of Living Members
Tuesday, May 16: Hebrews 10:19-25
The Catechism teaches that those who belong to Jesus also belong to His Church. The relationship is inseparable: “And of this community I am and always will be a living member.” This is the language of God’s covenant love and faithfulness that forges our identity, character and hope in Christ. We are living members because the Father has made us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-10), living stones built on the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-11). We are also living members because the Church is the pillar and foundation of God’s truth (1 Timothy 3:15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:1-5), the community through which we are called to grow up into Christ-like holiness (Ephesians 4:1-16; cf. chapters 4-5). Finally, we are living members who are called to extend Christ-like love and faithfulness to one another through mutual submission, devotion and encouragement (Romans 12:10, Ephesians 5:21, Colossians 3:12-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:11). On the one hand, these themes serve to encourage us. The Church is God’s gift of community to mutually forge our identity, character and hope in Christ from birth to death. On the other hand, these themes serve to examine us. The Church is often reduced to a tool in my “personal tool kit” to help me “meet my needs” or to a graceless community suffocating under the weight of performance driven religion. Both miss the gospel. So, let’s receive God’s encouragement through self-examination (Psalm 139:23-24). Are you committed to God’s call to forge your grace identity, character and hope through the joys and pains of shared life in Christ? Or, are you committed to a “high entertainment, low commitment” consumer driven “Christian culture,” even at the expense of those whom the Lord has placed in your life? Let’s be clear. In our culture – where we love to hate and hate to love, where we invest in abandonment and abandon mutual investment – we need a Church that looks more like Christ and less like the world. Let’s together embrace His call to be living members of His Church: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn