Coleman Geraci

“…as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…” – Ephesians 5:25-26

I can offer you no words of wisdom without first offering a confession. I believed a certain lie for a very long time. I believed the church was my possession. I believed it belonged to me. I believed it was there for me to take advantage of—that it owed me. Worse, I believed I could justify myself because I went to a church. I believed I could justify myself even more by contributing to a church, by staking my claim in it, by showing my merit badges as people I brought to it, by performing roles for it in worship and fellowship. But I was wrong.

The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord. She is the new creation of water and the Word. If I can pass one thing along to you, the church is not something you own. The church belongs to Christ. The church is His Bride. The church is much more than a four-walled building with stained glass and candles. The church is all who are gathered around the Word and Sacrament, all who have been called, gathered, and enlightened by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel—throughout all time and in all places. All who belong to Christ by faith through baptism belong to the church.

You belong to the church, because you belong to Christ. And because you belong to Christ, He gives you Himself in the church. For where the Word is, there is Christ; where Christ is, there is the forgiveness of sins; where the forgiveness of sins is; there is eternal life. The splash of baptism, the taste of bread and wine, the voice of your Shepherd Jesus saying, “It is finished.” There is the church. That church has always been here and will remain until Christ returns. The gates of hell will not prevail against it. Find this church and you find your Savior, present in His Word and Sacraments.

You will be challenged with many different things in life, especially as you enter into “the real world,” whether that is going to college or working at a job. All different types of truth claims will challenge you. Though you will wrestle with all sorts of issues, including doubt, fear and sin, they can never take away the truth of the Word given to you in your baptism. You are God’s child, gladly say it, you are baptized. Though the church will appear broken, hopeless, and possibly even corrupt, the church still belongs to Christ through that same baptism. Though the church may seem irrelevant and outdated, Christ, who is eternal and always relevant, is there in her midst. The church is Christ’s church, and as He gave himself up for you on the Cross, so He continues to give Himself to you through her. The church is there for you because He is there for you.

Coleman Geraci is a first year student at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.

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