The Weekly Perspective

by Burke Shade, Assistant Pastor

Peter Leithart, in his Theopolitan Vision book, spends a few pages debunking the idea of the “invisible church,” and for good reason. The scriptures never speak of an “invisible” church; it is always presented as a visible community among the communities of men. The church always consists of real, visible, fleshy people that you can touch, talk to, exhort, rebuke, love, and worship with on the Lord’s Day. There is no “Spiritual” element of life added on top of the “natural” life; in fact, all of life and all of Creation is a gift from God! Redemption transforms and fulfills nature, and is not a detached addition to it. The church is only invisible empirically: we can’t see all of it at once!

But keeping the church “visible” is also a great help to us as Christians and members of the visible body. If the church is visible, then what we do is visible, and needs to be seen, and will be seen. If we think worship is “invisible” between Jesus and me out in the woods, then I have an excuse not to get out of bed and join God’s real and sometimes difficult, crusty people, in being served in worship and serving others in worship. If the Christian life is “invisible,” I don’t have to serve others; I can just pray for them or hope the Spirit will help them. If the Christian life is “invisible,” then I’m left to my own imaginations of what it means to be spiritual, since nobody around me is speaking to me, and the Spirit I can always dismiss or ignore in my head. If the church is invisible, I can just escape it and be on my own. But that’s a recipe for immaturity: I never grow into maturity by dying for others, as Christ died for me!