Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The church belongs to Jesus. The church is a people, a people who belong to Jesus. But it’s not merely about possession, Jesus is active in His people. He builds them. As He builds, he strengthens and fortifies and prepares His people to storm the gates of Hell.
Not only is Jesus the builder of the church, but He is also the foundation, the unifier, and the source of life within the church.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Jesus builds the church, and the design He has laid out and is actively constructing is no mere vacation home. It’s a dwelling place for the Spirit of God. The people that Jesus has saved, created into His church, and is actively working in, are being formed into a temple–a place where God inhabits humanity. Into this temple (this people that Jesus builds into His church), the lost and broken, the aliens and strangers, the outcasts and rejects, the orphans and deviants, are called together and made into a family.
Christ, from whom all blessings flow,
perfecting the saints below,
hear us, who thy nature share,
who thy mystic body are.
Join us, in one spirit join,
let us still receive of thine;
still for more on thee we call,
thou who fillest all in all.
Move and actuate and guide,
diverse gifts to each divide;
placed according to thy will,
let us all our work fulfill;
Never from thy service move,
needful to each other prove;
use the grace on each bestowed,
tempered by the art of God.
Many are we now, and one,
we who Jesus have put on;
there is neither bond nor free,
male nor female, Lord, in thee.
Love, like death, hath all destroyed,
rendered all distinctions void;
names and sects and parties fall;
thou, O Christ, art all in all!
[Christ, From Whom All Blessing Flow written by Charles Wesley, 1740]