A Perfect Act of Love

If I ever do a perfect act of love, I’ll probably be proud of it, and then it won’t be a perfect act anymore. Maybe if I die in the midst of performing this act, I could do it.” – man on radio (wish I knew who he was)

When I heard it, this idea struck me. Even my best efforts are littered with selfishness and pride. My “wants” show up in the most unlikely of places – even when I “serve,” I want to be recognized – or I want someone else to take notice and look at me with more admiration, etc. My service serves myself. I’m sinful. Very sinful.

Scripture addresses this too.

Isaiah 64:6 – “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

Romans 7:21-25 – “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

So here’s the question: How can I get rid of this? How can I serve selflessly? Of course the only REAL answer is Jesus. He alone has done a “perfect act of love” – the cross. He alone is perfect, and so all of His acts were perfect. Ours are NOT. Nor will they ever be. Our acts of service and sacrifice are always going to be tainted with at least a little bit of selfishness. We are sinners, but because of His “perfect act of love” (the cross), we can receive forgiveness and will be made holy. Our selfishness is forgiven and covered by His blood.

A perfect act of love? This is not a goal for us to attain, but a grace that Jesus has offered to us.

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus – Draft written June 2009 – Never Finished

satforbThis is a simple list of the things I learned from this book. (Some are quoted) Some things on the list are new to me and others are ideas that I was reminded of. I’d encourage everyone to pick up a copy and read it for yourself. I had a basic understanding of Jesus’ Jewishness, but this book taught me more. I’m sure it only scratches the surface of the depth of this topic, but it’s a great place to start.


When Jesus the disciples fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, it followed a very long day, with a large meal, and multiple glasses of wine. It’s no wonder they fell asleep. (p 7) I had never really noticed this.

“Women [in the first century] were encouraged to sit in on the advanced discussions at the synagogue if they were able. A few even acquired the high-level education required to contribute to rabbinic debates, and their words are still on record.” (p 12)

First century Jews were acquainted with this rabbinic saying: “Let your house be a meeting place for the rabbis, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily.” They were expected to open their homes to these teachers and their disciples. This is why Jesus and the disciples spent so much time with Mary and Martha. (p 14)

Rabbis often sat on pillows or chairs when they taught and disciples sat at their feet on the ground or mats around them. “When Mary is described as ‘sitting at Jesus’ feet,’ she is being described as a disciple.” (p 14)

Disciples followed rabbis so closely, they became covered in the dust swirling up from the sandals of his feet. (p 14)

As opposed to the crowns/coronations of other kings, Hebrew kings were with anointed with expensive perfumed oil. (p 16)

The oil Mary anointed Jesus with would have probably lingered for days. “Everywhere Jesus went during the final days of His life he had the fragrance of royalty. ” In the Garden, the soldiers would have smelled it and wondered who stood before them. Even when he was on trial, mocked, whipped, and stripped naked, there may have been a fragrance of royalty in the air. (p 18)

When Jesus’ rode into Jerusalem on a mule, the people would have remembered Solomon doing the same thousands of years earlier. 1 Kings 1:38-40 (p 17)

Davening, the rocking motion used by Jews during prayer, is intended as “a way of expressing that one’s whole self, body and soul, is caught up with God. The old rabbi explained that the movement of the body mimics the flickering flame of a candle, calling to mind the saying that “the candlestick of God is the soul of a man.” (p 22)

Jesus probably began learning to read and memorize Scripture at the age of 5-6 yrs old. (p 24)

On Sabbath, a member of the congregation would read from the Scriptures and expound on the day’s passages. (p 25)

Study of the Torah was done at every opportunity. “When people assembled for a joyous occasion such as a circumcision or a wedding, a group might withdraw to engage in the study of the Law.” (p 26) If we did the same, we might have people studying Scripture during halftime at the football game.

Rabbis believed that study was the highest form of worship. “They pointed out that when we pray, we speak to God, but that when we study the Scriptures, God speaks to us.” (p 26)

Rabbis encouraged debate and believed the mark of a good student was his ability to argue well. Sparing with one another forced students to refine their thinking. (p 28)

Here’s a rabbinic parable (similar to Jesus’ parable of the soils in Luke 8:4-11):

“There are four types among those who sit in the presence of the rabbis: the sponge (soaks up everything), the funnel (takes in at one end and lets out at the other), the strainer (lets out the wine and retains the dregs) and the sieve (removes the chaff and retains the fine flour).” The best disciple is the sieve, not the sponge as one might expect. (p 31)

In American culture, movie stars are revered. In Jewish culture, life’s supreme achievement was to become a great scholar of the Scriptures. (p 33)

“The disciple sought to study the text, not only of Scripture but of the rabbi’s life, for it was there that he would learn how to live out the Torah. Even more than acquiring his master’s knowledge, he wanted to acquire his master’s character, his internal grasp of the God’s law.” This is why he traveled with the rabbi and followed him so closely. Imagine handing an instruction manual to a five-year-old who wants to learn how to ride a bike. (p 33-34)

Jesus didn’t come only to save us from sin, but also to raise us up as disciples who would be like Him. (p 34)

Here’s another blog I wrote about one of the concepts in the book: Remez (p 37)

Stringing pearls is the practice of bringing together passages from different places in order to explore their great truths. Jesus did this in the Beatitudes – referencing Isaiah and the Psalms. His Jewish audience would have picked up on these references and been reminded of God’s faithfulness in rescuing His people. (p 43)

“The usual method of learning was through hands-on experience.” (p 53)

“Learning wasn’t so much about retaining data as it was about gaining essential wisdom for living.” (p 53)

“discipleship has always been about a process.” (p 56)

“While the Gospels record many instances of Jesus instantly healing people’s illnesses, we know of not evenone instance in which he simply waved his hand to immediately fix an ugly habit for one of his disciples. Instead, he simply kept teaching and correcting them, giving them time to grow.” (p 56)

Disciples were totally committed. They left their homes, jobs, and lives to follow a rabbi. It wasn’t like signing up for a Bible Study, or a class they could skip when they had a baseball game, etc. (p 57)

This goal of discipleship is not just self-discipline, but transformation into the likeness of Christ. Imagine if someone were to define parenting only as discipline. Of course children need discipline, but we would have great cause for worry if discipline was the only thing a parent focused on. (p 58)

Here are a few statements from Jesus’ time describing the relationship between rabbi and disciple:

“If a man’s father and his rabbi are both taken captive, a disciple should ransom his rabbi first.” (p 59)

“Your father brought you into this world, but your rabbi brings you into the life of the world to come!” (p 59)

“If a disciple is sent into exile, his rabbi should go with him.”(p 59)

Imagine Judas’ act of betrayal in light of the previous attitudes about this relationship. (p 59)

Another interesting saying:

“All acts a slave performs for his master, a disciple performs for his rabbi, except untying the sandal.” To untie someone’s sandal was considered demeaning, the task of a slave. Check out John 1:27 (p 60)

A rabbi was to model how to live by using examples from his own life. (p 61)

“An authoritarian style of leadership has little to do with Christ and everything to do with human ego.” (p 62)

“God’s goal isn’t simply to fill the world with people who believe the right things. It is to fill the world with people who shine with the brilliance of Christ.” (p 64)

An early rabbinical statement: “When two sit together and exchange words of Torah, then the Divine Presence dwells among them.” (p 67) Similar to Jesus’ in Matthew 18:20

“We tend to believe that the only way to deeply encounter God is through solitary prayer and study. But Jesus implies that his presence will be felt most often in the presence of a small group of haverim.” (p 67)

“Jesus never sent out his students alone, but always in pairs. He knew their critical need for haverim.” (p 73)

“In most societies, people don’t experience loneliness as acutely as Americans do. In other cultures, people are rarely alone, physically or emotionally.” (p 73)

“A haver is a fellow disciple who earnestly desires to grapple with others over issues of faith – someone who wants to delve into God’s Word, to be challenged and refined. A haver is like a spiritual jogging partner.” (p 74)

“Jesus was probably wearing small tefillin when he criticized those who were wearing large tefillin in order to advertise their own super piety. (Mt 23:5)” (p 79)

“An observant Jew recites at least a hundred blessings a day.” (p 82)

Redeeming Love

I finished an audiobook recently called “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. It’s not the kind of book that I would normally read, but it was only $7 on itunes and I had a giftcard to use. Also, the book just came up in the most random conversations quite a few separate times so I thought I’d give it a shot.

The book tells the story the marriage of a girl who goes by quite a few names (Angel, Amanda, Sarah) and her husband Michael Hosea. She was a prostitute, but God told Michael to marry her anyway. It makes for an interesting set of circumstances in which He tries to love her in spite of her “baggage” and she struggles to receive the love that He offers to her – all-the-while trying to learn how to live a new way of life as a wife. The story also mirrors the Biblical account of the prophet Hosea with is prostitute bride, Gomer. Although Redeeming Love takes place in a completely different setting and the author doesn’t follow the Biblical account exactly, there are certainly many similarities. Rivers says herself that her intention was to retell the Biblical story and I’d say she has done a great job of it.

For me, this was a good story to hear during this time in my life. I have been looking for a job for almost a year. I feel like I have tried everything I know – I finished an alternative certification program and have interviewed for a few teaching positions, but I still seem to be coming up short. As a man who wants to provide for his family and make a difference in the lives of students, I feel worthless sometimes. I know God is using this time to mold me and He’s using it in ways I’ll probably never understand, but my knowledge of those things doesn’t make the emotional turmoil I’m feeling go away. With each interview, my hopes are ignited, but with each phone call saying they have chosen someone with more experience, those hopes are thrown to the ground once again. This emotional roller coaster is wearing on me. Today, I spoke harshly to my wife for no reason. This is not who I am – but it seems to be . . . well. . . who I am right now, and it’s not acceptable.

In Redeeming Love, after getting married and running away from Michael, Sarah eventually finds herself on the auction block being sold as a slave. (I can identify – life is being stripped away from me too.) But then, in the last possible moment, Sarah is bought and redeemed. She eventually finds her way back to Michael.

The hope in this story is helpful. My only problem is that I feel like I’ve been on the auction block for a while and for some reason – I guess God thinks I can handle even more stripping before He steps in – or maybe there’s more to learn?? or new habits to develop?? or new thoughts to develop??

Prayer: Lord, if you’re listening, I’m ready. I need You. I need Your help. I cannot do this. I have no power or control. I want to be who You have called me to be. (and I believe that’s a teacher) I want to provide for my family. I want to help students to understand the world around them and live productive lives. I am weak and I need Your strength. I am desperate, but I know You are in control. I will trust You. Help me to stand strong, to trust more, to notice Your gentle nudges and respond appropriately. Lord, help me to be and to become all that You’ve called me to. I surrender. Redeem me. AMEN.

The Adultery Passage – John 7:53-8:11

It’s a famous story: The Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery to Jesus and ask if they should stone her. He answers by saying, “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, they all leave.

This is one of the most highly debated texts in the Bible. Many pastors actually skip it or choose to never preach on it. Let me explain why. I’ve been studying up on this passage for a Small Group session tomorrow night and here’s what I’ve discovered: (By the way, most of this info is from a sermon I downloaded by Dr. Israel Loken who was my Bible teacher and is a highly regarded Biblical scholar/author.)

1. Most Bible scholars agree that this passage was not in the original Biblical text. It was added at a much later date. The earliest manuscript which includes this passage dates back to the 5th century – over 400 years after Jesus’ days. The next oldest manuscript which includes it is from the 9th century – another 500 years later. All the older manuscripts exclude this passage however, after the 9th century addition, is appears that most manuscripts do include it with a special marking identifying it as a later addition. The manuscripts which include it also don’t agree on where it belongs. It is sometimes found in John, sometimes in Luke, and sometimes in Matthew.

2. Textually the passage doesn’t fit the rest of John’s gospel. The words used are not found in any of John’s other writings. It’s highly unlikely that the author of John could have written it.

3. If you omit the passage from John, the gospel seems to flow better. The last part of chapter 7 takes place at the Feast of Tabernacles and raises the question of where Jesus is from. Who He is. When you skip this passage and go directly to 8:12, you see Jesus answering their questions. Especially in verse 14 where Jesus talks about where He came from. Also in 8:12, Jesus calls Himself the “light of the world.” This would make much more of a statement if it happened during the Feast of Tabernacles with the huge festival Menorahs in the background. If we leave the passage in tact, the scene has changed away from the Feast of Tabernacles and this event would not have had the same kind of impact.

4. Even though most scholars recognize this text as a later addition, they also believe it to be an accurate account of a historical event – it really happened. Much like the Old Testament, this story was passed down orally from generation to generation. The story is also recalled by a a few historians long before it’s first appearance in a manuscript in the 5th century. Papius wrote about it around 140AD. Augustine and Ambrose write of it as well.

5. It important to recognize that even if the story doesn’t belong in the Scriptures, it doesn’t add any important doctrine or make any changes to the whole of Scripture. It merely supports those doctrines which have been established in other texts.

6. In verse 8:6, we see Jesus writing on the ground with His finger. There has been much debate and there are many theories about what He wrote.

a.) He wrote the 10 Commandments. (It’s the only other place in Scripture where the hand of God writes something.)

b.) He wrote the sins of those who were standing as accusers of the woman.

c.) (and this is the one I like) He was writing the text from Lev 20:10 or Deut 22:22 and 24 which describes how both a man and woman should be brought forward when caught in adultery. This would have pointed out the “sins” of the accusers as well as upholding the law.

I also think it’s important to note that “he without sin” disqualifies everyone present. . .well, everyone except Jesus. Under these rules Jesus actually had the right to stone her. His choice in no way condones her actions. This is clear when Jesus tells her to leave her life of sin. What a beautiful example Jesus has given us! We are to forgive others no matter what the circumstances. We’ve got to remember that we are sinners too and we need the same forgiveness. We have chosen other things over God. We are adulterous too. We are an adulterous people.

This was a fun lesson to teach at small group. We had lots of great discussions around it all. I hope it’s been beneficial to someone else too.

I Want to Teach

family 02smTeacher’s Prayer:
I want to teach my students how to live this life on earth.
To face it’s struggles & it’s strife & to improve their worth.
Not just the lesson in a book or how the rivers flow,
But how to choose the proper path wherever they may go.
To understand eternal truth and know the right from wrong,
And gather all the beauty of a flower and a song.
For if I help the world to grow in wisdom and in grace,
Then I shall feel that I have won & I have filled my place. .
And so I ask your guidance, God, that I may do my part.
For character and confidence and happiness of heart.
– James J. Metcalf

As an 18yr veteran of full-time youth ministry, I have decided that I want to move into the educational system. I’m NOT just looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one that I’m excited to do each day – one where I can truly make a difference in the world and impact/influence people. A teaching position seems to be the direction that God has been leading my wife and I. There are a couple of reasons:

1. I love working with students and this would put me with them every day. I have also always had an ability to connect with students who were different from the average “church-going” type of student and look forward to being able to work with them more regularly.

2. I believe my varied youth ministry experiences will be a huge asset in an educational environment. I have experience teaching, counseling, writing curriculum, training other teachers, leading groups, and supervising people. I also have experience with multimedia, interactive learning, team building, group work, and other creative teaching strategies.

I have completed the “act houston” Winter 2010 Institute for alternative certification and passed the 4-8th Generalist content exam with a score of 282 out of 300. This makes me “highly qualified” and eligible for a Probationary Certificate from the State of Texas.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership from the College of Biblical Studies and have written many articles describing my philosophies/ideas about leadership. Some were even published by published by smallgrouptrader.com. If you’re interested, you can check out some of these articles here:

Leadership:
Leadership Compass & Teaching
Lions and Leadership
Little Shovel
Bottom Leaders
Changing a Culture
Wizard of Oz Leadership
SmallGroupTrader
Bio:
Steve Corn

Articles:
I Don’t Know What We should Study
Leadership is Service
Practical Ways to Connect as a Group

During this time in our lives, God has granted us peace. I’m not sure how to explain it, (Jesus is the “Peace that passes understanding.” Philippians 4:7) but we are resting in the fact that He has never let us down and that as His children, He loves us. We don’t know how we’re going to survive and keep our house from one month to the next, but we feel that He is leading us down this road toward a teaching position. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. We need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Want to contact me?
Steve Corn
Dv84JC@yahoo.com
979-415-4522 (cell)

Remez

“May the force be with you.” It’s a classic quote. With those 5 little words I have referred you to a concept found in the Star Wars films. Almost anyone in our culture would recognize the reference, without mentioning the film itself. Jesus often did the same thing.

hiddenA practice called a “remez” (meaning “hint”) was practiced by most rabbis (including Jesus) during Biblical times. The Jewish educational system required that every young boy memorize the Law. Many went on to memorize the entire Old Testament. Their culture was so steeped in the Scriptures, that they could quote a part of a verse knowing that others would recognize the end. According to FishingtheAbyss.com, there are “30 – 50 (potentially more) remezim of Jesus recorded in the gospels.”

Here’s an example: Ever wonder why the Pharisees hated Jesus so much? Although He did say some things to them that were not very flattering, sometimes it’s what He didn’t say that bothered them the most.

Check out Mathew 21:16

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
” ‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’?”

Why would that make them so angry? It doesn’t sound so bad. But check out what the rest of that verse says. He was quoting Psalm 8:2

From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

The Pharisees knew the end of the verse He was quoting – and Jesus knew it too. He called them “enemies!” No wonder they got so mad.

Anyway, the “remez” is an interesting practice. We’ve got to know the whole of Scripture in order to understand the intricacies of the things Jesus said (and didn’t day).

Here are a few other places Jesus used the “remez.” Look ’em up. It’s pretty cool stuff.

Matthew 21:13 hints at Isaiah 56:7 (Jesus isn’t as mad about them selling stuff in the temple area as much as He is concerned that this was the only place the Gentiles could worship and they were not being allowed to do so.)

Matthew 27:46 hints at Psalm 22:1 (Check out Psalm 22:13-18 – Jesus was telling them He was the Messiah.)

Luke 11:20 hints at Exodus 8:18-19

Luke 19:10 hints at Ezekiel 34 (Revealing Himself as the Messiah)

Mark 15:34 would have been an obvious “remez” to the Jews present at the time. Hinting at Psalm 22-24 (Messianic Psalms)

OK – so that should be enough to get you started. The bottom line for me is this. If we could approach the Scriptures with the context of Jewish culture, we’d have a much greater understanding and these sorts of nuances wouldn’t fly over our heads. I may be strange (and some of you know it’s true) but I’d sure like to be able to talk about the Scriptures as easily and with as much nuance as I do about Star Wars.

The Family Bible

WordI was thinking a couple of weeks ago about the family Bible. Most people have this huge Bible that just sits around somewhere in the house, that is never used. I felt like God was telling me that Miranda and I needed to be more intentional about our time together and our Bible reading. I talked to her about it. We talked about how we want Kasen growing up in a home where he sees us studying the Bible together and that we want the Scriptures to be clearly present in our everyday lives – not to mention the benefits it will bring to us personally.

Anyway, we decided to read and study together each night that we are able and so far it’s been a huge blessing! We have always been pretty good about our own personal quiet times, but this is something we’re doing together. Familydriven_2We have been able to go to our small group (studying Matthew) a bit more prepared, and we’ve also been reading a book called “Family-Driven Faith”
together. It’s written by Voddie Baucham and it has been great for sparking other conversations between us. We have probably talked to each other about important things more in the past couple of weeks than almost any other time in the history of our marriage.

Prayer:
Thank you God for my Beautiful Bride. Thank you for her willingness to spend this time with me. Thank you for her heart and how she interacts with You during these times. God, help us to remain faithful to this commitment so that Kasen will witness consistency in our lives and He’ll grow up knowing the priority the Bible has in our lives. Teach us to turn the TV off and listen to You more. We believe that You are the most important part of our lives, but we must confess that our lives have not always reflected those beliefs.  We want that to change. Help it change in us. We will abide in You so that we can produce fruit for You. Keep us healthy so we can produce amazing fruit. AMEN.

Conflict & Reconciliation

Matthew 18:15-20 – If someone sins against you, then you are responsible for going to them to explain how they’ve hurt you and seek reconciliation.

Matthew 5:23 – If you have sinned against someone, then you are responsible for going to them seeking reconciliation.

I can’t help but notice that we are personally responsible for all of our relationships – even if someone has wronged us. No matter who has sinned – we are personally responsible. If we as Christians would practice this, we’d have both parties coming to each other simultaneously seeking reconciliation. Does that ever happen? I’d say it’s pretty rare – most of the time at least one of the parties wants to hold a grudge or be bitter about it all. Have you ever heard anyone say that so and so didn’t handle this or that biblically ’cause they didn’t come to me about it. According to these Scriptures, the person saying that is just as much in the wrong. The one instance I’m not sure about is this – what if you know someone has a problem with you – there is broken relationship, and they are accusing you falsely. If they don’t come to us (which doesn’t happen very often) then are we responsible to go to them? When we haven’t sinned?

Romans 14 talks about this stuff too. Verse 13 says, “Don’t put any stumbling block in your brothers way.” It’s critical to realize that this is talking about “stumbling” in regards to their relationship with Christ. It doesn’t apply to someone being offended that you wore jeans to church. In issues of preference, we are to accept one another without passing judgment (14:1) and yet still lovingly defend our own position (14:16) – always remembering to “make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (14:19)

It’s interesting to me that we are each responsible for maintaining good relationships in regards to sin and hurting one another (which has to do with division in the body), but in other areas we are instructed to live lovingly an humbly in  the tension of different viewpoints and preferences. It makes complete sense really – it’s all about priorities and keeping the main thing the main thing.

Existence of God

Earth
Although the existence of God has been debated throughout the years, there are some very good arguments which have developed. The following are the most popular.

Cosmological Argument – Since the world exists and something cannot come from nothing, God must exist.
Teleological Argument – Since the world is ordered and logically arranged, there must be an intelligent organizer. There must be a master architect since the world evidences intelligence, purpose, and harmony. Ps 8:3-4; 19:1-4 testify that creation itself speaks of God. The idea that this kind of organization could happen by accident (as Evolution proclaims)  is like a tornado ripping through a junkyard and assembling a Boeing 747.

Anthropological Argument – There are things within man (intellect, sensibility, will, conscience, and inherent belief in a creator) which could never have found their origin in some “blind force,” therefore God must exist. Man is not simply a physical being, but he is emotional and spiritual – this speaks of God.

Moral Argument – If man is only biological, why does he have a sense of right and wrong? It must be from God. Man is different from all the rest of creation in this way. Recognition of moral standards are found in every culture, yet could never be attributed to any sort of evolutionary process.

Ontological Argument – This one isn’t as strong as the others, but it basically suggests that since every culture (all men) have had an awareness of God, then God must have placed that idea in humanity. Therefore, He exists. Anselm (1033-1109) was the first proponent of this view.

How does this affect me? As a youth minister, I get these kinds of questions/challenges all the time. I’d say it’s actually one of the favorite topics, among our students. I enjoy these conversations because these arguments are pretty strong and they can lead into some great evangelism-type situations.

(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 183-185)

Church Symbols

There are quite a few images that Scripture uses to speak of the church. Each of them conveys a different message as to what the church should be like. Here are some of the main ones:

Body
Eph 1:22; Col 1:18, 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:12; 1 Cor 10:16-17
The church is describes as a body in order to communicate a few things.
(1) Jesus is the head of the body and should be in control of it all.
(2) The idea of working together without distinctions. (In their culture with Jew and Gentile distinctions, it was important to realize that the church should be different.)
(3) The body image also communicates that it should grow and be nourished by Christ as He brings leaders into the fellowship.
(4) The unity/oneness of the body with each part needing the other.

Bride
Eph 5:2, 23, 25, Jn 14:1-3; 1 Thes 4:16-17; Rev 19:7-9
The bride image points to the great love that Jesus has for the church. It also shows the value of the church and speaks of the promised blessings which she shall receive. As the espouse bride, the church should be waiting in expectation for Jesus’ return when He comes to take her as His wife as they celebrate the wedding feast together.

Building
Eph 2:20; 4:12-13; 1 Pet 2:5
This image stresses the unity of the church (Jews and Gentiles alike) which is built upon the “foundation of the apostles and prophets.” The apostles are called the foundation and Jesus is the cornerstone. In Christ the whole building is being “fitted together” which shows Jesus as the constructor of the church. The church also grows as new believers are added to the building.

Priesthood
1 Pet 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6
All believers are considered priests who represent God to humanity and offer spiritual sacrifices to Him. The church believers are actually called both kings and priests (royal priesthood). The have direct access to God through Jesus Christ.

Flock
Flock

Jn 10:16, 26-27; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:3
This one depicts the church as a flock of sheep under Jesus’ care. They belong to Him and they know His voice. It speaks of intimacy and of His protection. The church is secure under Jesus.

Branches
John 15
This image describes the close relationship that the church has with Jesus. They are tied to Him directly and receive nourishment/life from Him. They will be fruitful if they stay connected to Him. It also helps to explain some of the “pruning” times in our lives when God is cutting things away so that we can be more fruitful.

How does this make a difference in my life? Each of these images speaks to me in a different way, and in different times of my life, I need to remember each one. As I have said before, I also hope to  be a part of a church plant one day, and these images will be foundational for figuring out how the church should be structured and how it should relate to Jesus.

(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 349-351)