The Church is alive, it is a living body, it is organic not mechanical. The Church is not a building, a program, a scattered group of individuals etc. The Church is an organism, it is the body of Christ. Therefore we can examine it's health; we can know if it's healthy or not; how healthy is it; what is it deformity, sickness or disease; how can it be healed and returned to it's state of health.
The Anatomy Of The Church: When can one say an organism is healthy? Isn't it when it has all of it's organs complete and functioning properly? The organism must be complete in having all the parts that it's specie should have. It's anatomical structure must be complete. So what is the anatomy of the Church? How is the Church structure? Many Christian leaders have answered this question wrongly because they have failed to realize that the Church is organic. They have study the Bible carefully, trying to discover materials by which they can build the Church. But the Church cannot be built even if the materials are gotten from the Bible. You can't build an organism, you can only allow it to be born and nurture it's growth. We must recognize that the Church is the body of Christ and it is structured according to Christ. You cannot construct the structure of the Church, you can only learn of the anatomical structure of the Church by learning what Christ is. How is Christ structured? What is the constituents of Christ? How is Christ constituted? The answer to these question would enable us understand the anatomy of the Church. That is, in order to know how the Church should be we must know how Christ is constituted. We decades we have made a mistake of believing that the New Testament Contain a model of how the Church should be. But this is untrue. The New Testament only gives us an example of a Church that tries to draw a structure out of a revelation of Christ. The Church cannot be structured out of a revelation of the New Testament, this would lead to serious deformity and it has been the cause of the confusion that now plague Christianity today. The Church can only be structured out of a revelation of Christ. The anatomic structure of the Church is according to Christ not according to the Bible or the New Testament. Therefore in order for us to see the Church as God intended it to be we must look onto Christ.
The Sickness Of The Church: Sickness can be as a result of deformity, incompleteness of the normal anatomic structure of the organism. Another cause of sickness is the introduction of something alien to the body. It could be an introduction of another organism such as bacteria or any non-living thing that is strange to the body. Look at the Church today, is it a glorious Church? Is this the way God desire it to be? Can you say the Church is healthy? The Church is the body of Christ and the Bible says it is the fullness of Christ and it is filled with Christ (Eph 1:23). This body is totally and utterly Christ and if this body is sick it can only mean one thing i.e something other than Christ have been introduced into the body, the body is not structured according to Christ. How is sickness dealt with? You must know what has gone wrong with the body. That is, what is missing in the body or what's the alien thing that have been introduce into the body. The diagnosis can only be possible when you know the normal anatomy of the body well enough to differential that which is of the body from that which is alien. The Spirit says, "not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." (1Cor 11:29-30). Various members of the body of Christ are not functioning well because they do not discern the body. Christians do not know how the body of Christ is structured, how one part connect with the other and how they all function in harmony. This is the reason why the Church is sick and we have no idea what to do about it.
The reason why we have not been able to return the Church to it's state of healthiness is because we have been doing a lot of guess work in our solution finding. We don't know Christ well enough, we don't know the normal anatomic structure of the Church and we can't identify the alien object being introduce or that which is missing. We can not define the pathology of the Church. We have to understand that the Church is a body and we can only find solution to the problem when we treat the Church has a body. The solution is not getting the right doctrinal practice, it is not trying to be holier, it is not praying harder and it is not more evangelism. The solution is knowing Christ well enough to be able to differential that which is Christ from that which is alien from Christ. Just as we study the anatomy of the human body we must know the anatomy of Christ, we must know that which constitute Christ.
The Church is not the body of the Bible but the body of Christ. It is not by trying to structure the Church base on the Bible that we can find it true form. But the Church must be structured according to Christ and everything that is not of Christ in the Church must be purge. Any part of the Church that is not conform to the image of Christ must be dealt with, whatever that part may be whether doctrine, tradition, practice, rituals, worship, activity etc they must all be conform to Christ. Therefore the first step of dealing with the sickness of the Church is knowing Christ.
The Symptoms Of The Sickness: The sickness of the Church is noticeable because of the visible symptoms. We can see all kinds of evil in the Church, strife, division, hatred, dirty politics, jealousy, selfishness, deception, lies, immorality, pride, heresy, doctrinal errors and excesses, schism etc. Many have focus too much on these symptoms that they forget its only an expression of the disease. We try to make the Church look good on the outside while she is dirty inside. We wage war against the symptoms. Most of the messages preached in Christianity are just medicine for the symptoms. We try to deal with all these symptoms forgetting and isolating them from the disease. We have failed in identifying the disease, we do not know how to diagnose. Our perception is so limited that we can't see beyond the symptoms. All we can see is the symptoms and we've mistake the symptoms for the disease.
For example, Influenza which is commonly known as “the flu,” has its symptoms to be body aches, sore throat, headache, fever, coughing, and chills. The Church is like a person with influenza who only focus on trying to heal the cough, body ache, headache, sore throat, fever and chills. And the person attacks these symptoms individually as if they are the sickness itself. Such a person would never be healed until he discover that what he is experiencing are the symptoms of a disease called influenza. At the point of this discovery he could go to the doctor to get the vaccine for that influenza. But the Church today is still at that point of thinking the symptoms are the diseases. That is why all our attempt to get a Church according to God's full thought have failed. Since the moment the reformers break from Roman Catholic we have introduce various reform, make various changes but yet we still haven't gotten there and the Church still remains sick. Look at us, for centuries we have been following the same pattern. Week after week Christians sit down to hear a sermon telling them to be good Christians and to have good morals but yet we see a Church which is morally decaying. All those sermons have proven ineffective because they only focus on the symptoms rather than the disease. But yet we still stick to our old ways, following traditions and being satisfied with religion. No! God must have a glorious Church on earth.
The Church must be healthy, she must come to her state of glory. For Christ have determined to "present to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph 5:27). God must have a Church without disease, deformity or any kind of sickness. He must have an healthy Church.
According To Christ by T. Austin Sparks
According To Christ by T. Austin Sparks