What defines the church? Perhaps we’d turn to passages like Colossians 1:18, “He [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.” Or verses like: Matthew 16:16-18, or Ephesians 1:22-23 and 5:23-24, or Hebrews 12:23.
There are many references that help us realize the church isn’t a building, but people who are faithfully committed to following God’s word, which was lived out in Jesus, the Word of God (John 1:1-3).
But when we share the good news with people about the accessibility of God’s kingdom via Christ, and that His ways lead to life and godliness, and a “peace that passes all understanding,” how do they interpret what the church is?
Ultimately, it must be in how we model Christ in our lifestyles. As Jesus told John’s disciples in Luke 7:22-23, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor…”
James echoes the same sentiment in James 1:22-25, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says! (25) “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
This is the most difficult, and often most confusing part about responding to the Gospel; because this is more than ritualistic responses to God, and it’s more than lip service, but instead it's genuine and sincere submission to God’s ways of living (Romans 12:1-2). This is what should serve as a way to define the church to the world (1 Peter 2:12 and Titus 2:7-8).
We must follow Jesus in word and deed. This requires us to do as Paul encouraged Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 2:14-15, “Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth"