Ecclesia Is Community
Ecclesia is COMMUNITY. It is not “going to church”, though going to church is a good thing. It is not your local church, neither the building nor the legal entity, though your local church is part of ECCLESIA. Ecclesia is best described in terms of city-states, governments, and communities of PEOPLE, not in terms of sacraments, clergy, services, and buildings- though all of those things are an important part of our Christian lives.
Ecclesia is many things, depending on how we look at it. It is not something technical and easily defined. But at its heart it conveys the meaning of an assembly coming together to do governing, the idea of people being called our and separated for a work, and the concept of a city or community that can act act as for the good of the whole.
When Jesus said “upon this rock I will build my (ecclesia)” do you suppose He meant a “church”, as in a building, a service, a legal entity, or clergy? Ecclesia certainly can include all of these things within the domain of its “sacred boundary” (pomerium), but to confuse these “city-state elements” with the whole of what is governed by the “governing body” (ecclesia) of the city-state is missing a MAJOR opportunity to live for Jesus as a witness to the nations!
There is nothing with church or churches. But ecclesia is something even bigger, something we have neglected.
How do we know that Ecclesia in all of its potential is being neglected?
When people ask why Christians still have to turn to government for help instead of each other, that shows us Ecclesia is missing. When churches and denominations can espouse beliefs and doctrines we know to be unsound and not biblical and yet nobody really calls them out on it, that shows us Ecclesia is lacking. When you look for unity and love within the local Body of Christ and only find divisions and quarrels, that’s a sure sign Ecclesia is not very strong. When a Christian can wrong another Christian and never have to answer for it and just hop from Church to Church without regard for their actions, THAT shows us that Ecclesia has been neglected.
Ecclesia is not a church in the modern sense of the term, which conjures up images of buildings, clergy, religious organizations, and services. All of those things are ECCLESIASTIC, but they are to Ecclesia what your organs are to LIFE. Ecclesia is community and community, while it may INVOLVE organizations and structures, is mostly two things, one resting upon the other- relationships and actions. Ecclesia is LIVED and EXPERIENCED with God and with your fellow Christians, ALL of them.
Ecclesia is the called out life, lived out together, in relationship and common action, with God and with your fellow Christians, starting in your own home, place of work or employment, place of worship, neighborhood, and community. Ecclesia can be expressed in Christian organizations and institutions, including churches, marketplace associations or businesses, civic associations, and, of course, Christian fraternal societies, like The Upadarian Society, both by how they operate internally and how they interact with other Christians and Christian “bodies” of people in all their many forms and functions. But Ecclesia is mainly expressed in your life, your beliefs, values, and practices, the standards and norms you live by, and your relationship first with God then with fellow Christians, and by that I mean ALL of your fellow Christians.
Ecclesia is not church in the modern sense of a religious entity, a church building, clergy, or services, though all of these things are good and worthy of our support and participation. Ecclesia is not this Society, the Upadarian Society of America, though this Society, within its members, can function as a sort of Ecclesia, so long as it is not separated and divided from the REST of the Ecclesia of God’s elect. Ecclesia is relationship and action under the direction of God for a life that is called out from the world and its darkness.
This is not meant to say local churches should not exist, they should, but it is to say that if we are going to every realize just what kind of power, authority, and influence Jesus have HIS ECCLESIA to turn the world upside down and be a witness to the nations, we have to rethink how we PRACTICE “Ecclesia.” Within our Christian fraternal Society, one of our aims is, first, to model the practices and behaviors of Ecclesia as every Christian body of people should do, then to behave toward other Christians, on an individual basis, in a manner that shows the world that within the called out assembly of God’s Elect there is only ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE SAVIOR, ONE GOSPEL, ONE TRUTH which God wishes to express through us pouring out our lives in His service.