To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. —Luke 18:9-14
The core ingredient of being the church is being in Christ. If we are in Christ, and he is in us, we are the church. Notice I said—we are "the" church, which is entirely different from being members of or part of "a" church. The church is the universal body of Christ. It is not comprised of or defined by any specific incorporated legal entity. All of what the universal church is—its entirety, its unity, its beauty and its totality—is not visible. The body of Christ is everyone in whom Jesus lives, everyone who trusts in him, everyone, regardless of their affiliation with a legally incorporated church, or lack thereof.
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