(57) the communion of saints

A saint is a person quite ordinary in many ways, in whom Christ is at work. As such he shares in something of Christ’s holiness, even though he is by no means perfected. Christ is committed to loving and rescuing him, as a man is committed to caring for his bride. We saints have many things in common. We have all responded to the upward calling of the Holy Ghost. We therefore understand things which some others cannot know. We all have the same task—bringing men out of unreality, isolation, and helplessness. Spiritual riches have accumulated from age to age as men responded to Christ, and this is the inheritance of all the saints. We share in the family tradition of Abraham, Moses, and Amos, Peter, John, and Paul. We join together in worship, fellowship, and service, with great mutual expectations. All this and much more is possible because each of us is in Christ and Christ in each. We love one another with the love of the great Lover who lives and loves in us all. Jesus Christ is the bond which creates the communion of saints.

The church, the communion of saints, is forever. These loving lives are bound together in Christ for all eternity. Neither the breadth of the earth nor the length of the years, the depth of the grave nor the height of heaven, will be able to separate us from Christ, or from our loved ones in the Lord. Christ will always join us together whether in this world or some other. The sharp edge is taken off all our sad partings, because the eternal Christ is the eternal reality of the communion of saints. In him there can be no real division between the saints on earth and the saints in paradise. We are all one church forever in Christ Jesus our Lord. No power on earth can ever cut off the body of Christ on earth from its head and the rest of its members. The body of Christ may be floundering in deep waters, but its Head is safely above the flood. When all the families and tribes, clubs and nations have gone, the church will still remain.

If I believe in the communion of saints, I must show it in all my relationships with living Christians. We are channels of the water of life to one another. There is a priesthood of all believers. I need them and they need me. One burning coal separated from the others in the fire soon grows cold and loses its glow. I must share with the others the gifts and experiences which God has given to me. They should come to know the theology, history, and ways which I have inherited through my line of the church. And I must be willing to receive from other lines something of their inheritance, too. Anything that separates me from my brothers in Christ cannot be entirely right.

Because I believe in the church, I have joined it. I not only approve of there -being a church—I have thrown my weight behind it! I have declared publicly my esteem for Christ and for the most Christlike souls who ever lived. I’m betting my life on Christ and his church. If I believe in the church, I must be the church wherever I am—at work, at play, at home, away. The Lord has promised to be with such people always, and I want nothing more.