Christ Present in the Church


How can we say that Christ is present in the church? For Bonhoeffer, God was not just an idea to be accepted or rejected but rather an encounter. God meets us in the risen Christ who addresses us as persons. This is not just a historical memory but a present experience to which we must respond. The risen Christ continues to meet us in the Body of Christ. “…the church is the Christ of the present, Christ existing as community….Christ is the corporate person of the Christian communion…the Church is the body of Christ.” ( Act and Being, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, trans. Bernard Noble, p. 120, Harper & Row, 1961.)

The community is not only the receiver of the Word of revelation but is herself the revelation and the Word of God. “…The Body of Christ has penetrated into the heart of the world in the form of the church. To stay in the world with God means simply to live in the rough and tumble of the world and at the same time remain in the Body of Christ, the visible church, to take part in its worship and to live the life of discipleship.” (As quoted by John Phillips, The Form of Christ in the World page 119-120.)


If the church is the Body of Christ, then we must look for where the Word is being made flesh in the relational reality of what goes on in the church. It is clear that not everything that goes on in the church is pleasing to God but in the midst of its historical, physical reality, God is speaking a “Word” to the world. The church embodies, puts flesh on, incarnates the Word of God.

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