MAY 27

The Universal Church

There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.

The Christian faith is deeply personal. At the same time, it is also deeply communal. When we say, with the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in . . . the holy catholic church,” we are declaring that the church, the body of Christ, includes all who belong to the people of God throughout history.

Let’s be clear, though, that this statement does not single out or promote a particular church within the body of all who believe in Christ. The word “catholic” here means “universal,” indicating that the church of Christ includes all of God’s people from all times in history. The breathtaking vision in Revelation captures the scope of Christ’s church gathered “from every nation, tribe, people and language.” Can you imagine a more awe-inspiring sight?

And what unites this astonishing multitude of people from every time and place? Since the early centuries of the church, the teaching of statements like the Apostles’ Creed has played a central role in uniting Christians around the true faith anchored in Scripture and inspired by the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

May the truth and witness of the universal church comfort, encourage, and challenge you to love and serve the God whom countless believers have served through the ages.

Lord, we are humbled and grateful to belong to your church, and we look forward to praising and serving you forever. Amen.

The Communion of Saints

In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Many years ago I heard someone say, “I believe in the communication of the saints.” While good communication is essential in all kinds of relationships, our connectedness in Christ goes beyond communicating well with each another.

When we say, with the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in . . . the communion of saints,” we are saying that through Jesus’ blood we not only belong to him but also to each other. Our blood relationship in Jesus transcends even the real blood we share with our own family members.

And our communion with each other is more than just a statement of fact. Paul goes on to explain that belonging to one another has a crucial function. Each of us has been given gifts by the Holy Spirit. Though our gifts vary, the purpose for them is the same: to build one another up in service to the Lord and for the benefit of all. Using our gifts leads to all kinds of ways in which we can show God’s love to one another and to all the people around us.

The gifts we have may include preaching (prophesying—bringing God’s Word to people), teaching, leading, serving, giving, or a number of other abilities. Jesus wants us to use these gifts with thanksgiving and love to strengthen his body so that all can join in the communion of saints.

Lord Jesus, just as we belong to you, we belong to each other. Help us to use our gifts faithfully to build up your body and share your love with everyone. Amen.