I have seen this expression (and others like it) many times. It has stirred me to write.
The question should be: Is the church a faithful witness to God? Is it, in practice and conduct, honouring the name of Christ in his absence? Is it relevant to his mind? Or has the church publicly become so mixed with the world that the Lord has to say, as he says to the assembly at Laodicea in Revelation 3:16, “Thus because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spue thee out of my mouth”. This assembly had failed as a witness so the Lord addresses them as the one who is “the faithful and true witness”. (It moves us to woship him as the Same, the one who never fails.)
The better question: Is the church relevant to Christ?
Israel was to be the witness on earth for God. Having failed in this, they have ben set aside for a time. The church has been established here on earth, consequent on Christ being glorified and the Holy Spirit sent down. As ascended, it says in Colossians 2:18 “And he is head of the body, the assembly [church]”. Therefore in the figure of speech, Christ is head in heaven and the body is here on earth. The idea of the body is that it is the vehicle for the expression of the person. So the Lord said to Saul of Tarsus on the way to Damascus: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Of course there is the other aspect of the church - that which Christ builds. That is perfect and is ready for translation at any time. It is the real thing, see Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 2:20,21, etc. I speak in this article of what is seen in the public profession, that which is left to man’s responsibility – see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
Our concern should be to determine whether our “church conduct” is according to the mind of God for the church, rather than whether we are pandering to a world that has Satan as its prince – John 12:31. In the church even angels should be able to see the exercise of the wisdom of God. See Ephesians 3:10, “in order that now to the principalities and authorities in the heavenlies might be made known the all-various wisdom of God”. Of course this involves the work of elders and the exercise of gifts such as preachers, shepherds and teachers and “fervent love amongst yourselves”.
May we seek the Lord’s help to order our individual and collective conduct according to his mind, and not according to the shifting social climate, the changing tastes and the abandoned morals of society today. We can rightly serve man only as we put God first.
MM February 2002