The ecclesia (Church) is a participatory community of the followers of Jesus Christ, built upon the proclamation of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom, nurtured under leadership of those called by God, situated in a particular time and place, demonstrating the power of God, for the glory of God and the salvation of many.
I think some of the most beautiful and troubling verses in the New Testament are in the opening lines of the gospel of John.
He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:10–14
They are beautiful because of how they describe God coming down to save us – “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” ! In the letter to the Galatians, Paul talks about “Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Ga 1:4, emphasis mine). The God who made it all came down and became as we are in order to save us from our sins. Indeed “Lord…there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart,” (1 Ki 8:23).
But these verses in John are also troubling because of how they speak of the way the world He made greeted Him. “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” Light stepped down into darkness and those who should have known him did not recognise him and ultimately rejected him.
When we speak of the glory of God, when we say that this is one of the two “why’s” of the Church’s existence, we speak simultaneously of how great-beyond-description he is and of our passionate determination to ensure that, in our cities and villages, he will be famous. Our desire is to know God and to make Him known. We want it to be said of Him on the day of His return, “He came unto His own and His own heard His voice and came running!”
“…that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other,”. 1 Kings 8:60