My wife and I hosted some Latino friends recently. These are students from Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras, Chile, and Bonaire. It was their first time in the Philippines and they observed a lot of similarities between the Latino and Filipino cultures. Naturally, they fell in love with our country and our countrymen.
One day, as we drove around Metro Manila, I saw their perplexed faces when they first saw church buildings marked “Iglesia ni Cristo.” They were confused and curious why a church would have such a name. “Iglesia,” “ni” and “Cristo” are also Spanish words. So when these Latinos read the phrase “Iglesia ni Cristo,” the meaning conveyed is basically “tampoco” (neither). Therefore, these Latinos translated “Iglesia ni Cristo” as “neither church nor Christ” not “Church of Christ” as we Filipinos do.
That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? It is unimaginable to have a church that neither acts as a church nor exalts the Lord Jesus Christ? But is it?
Now, this is first of all a shout-out for our friends from the Iglesia ni Cristo. At the same time, I encourage my Catholic and fellow Evangelical friends to also examine our respective churches.
- Is your church known as “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) or simply as a political force to be reckoned with during elections?
- Is your church acting like a body whose head is the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18) or does one person, a fellow human being, reign supreme in all church matters?
- Is your church fulfilling your commission of sharing the Word and love of Christ throughout the world (Matthew 28:19-20) or are you behaving simply as a social club or a business organization?
- Is your church characterized by the same humble self-sacrificing spirit of our Lord Jesus (Philippians 2:3-11) or by an insatiable sense of entitlement?
These are tough questions to ask ourselves. May the living God grant you the grace to truly be his church where he planted you–a missional church that is a faithful, righteous and loving witness of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, for the glory of God.
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