How Does the Church Lead Us to Christ?
The Church is an effective sacrament of Christ—His visible presence in the world—when it presents the message of Gods love in Jesus Christ, builds up the Christian community, serves all people (especially those in need), and worships the Triune God.
Message. Down through the centuries the Church has announced the good news that God of love invites all people to the fullness of life. Some people have never heard this good news; others have only heard it in a partial or confused way. A major mission of the Church is to proclaim the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ.
The heart of the good news is found in the kerygma, the central message of the gospel proclaimed by the apostles. We find a masterful summary of the kerygma in St. Peter's first sermon on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:14-41). He proclaimed that Jesus was Lord, the key to the mystery of life. He invited people to turn from their sinful lives, to accept Jesus Christ in faith, and to be baptized with water in the Holy Spirit. The Church must continue to preach this message to all people everywhere. By doing so the Church helps lead people to the Lord Jesus.
Community. The Church builds up the community of believers when it lives the gospel it proclaims. If Christians do not live the gospel message, the Church cannot be a believable symbol of Christ. To be an effective and credible sign of the gospel, others must see in the Church a community united by faith, hope, and love.
Service. The image of servant best describes this task. Jesus showed us the way when He, the King of kings, took off His cloak and washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper. A Christian should be one who serves. A follower of Jesus must minister to the needs of others. The Church must witness to God’s love by translating its words of love into concrete acts of service for all. The Church which announces that our loving God cares for people in their misery must be willing to take that message and make it real by the deeds it does for others.
Worship. In worship we recognize and acknowledge that God, the source of our being and every gift, is worthy of our adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. Through the liturgy, especially the Mass, the work of our salvation is exercised. The liturgy inspires Christians to unite in love to the Lord and each other. Doing so, they become Christ for others, 'to become in deed what they proclaim in creed.'