For an introduction to the series, read this.
We continue working through the final article of the Apostles’ Creed:
Memorization for the Week
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. The third day he rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints.
Thoughts for Discussion with Children
God didn’t send Jesus to save us so that we could be all by ourselves. He sent Jesus to save a whole body of people, from all over the world, for his Son. Together, all believers at all times and places make up the one church of Jesus Christ, the gathering of people who will be with Jesus forever. The creed speaks of the church as “holy,” “catholic,” and as a “communion of saints.”
The word “holy” means we are different from the world and specially devoted to God. It means that we live our lives in a different way from the world around us that does not know God. It means people should be able to know that we are Christians by the way we live together as God’s special people. The word “saints” in “communion of saints” simply means “holy ones.” God makes his people holy through Jesus Christ his Son.
When you hear the word “catholic,” you probably think about churches that have the word “Catholic” in their names. For example, here in Jackson, Tennessee, there is a church called St. Mary’s Catholic Church. That church believes and practices a number of things differently than we do at our church.
When we say with the creed that we believe in “the holy catholic church,” we are not using the word “catholic” in that sense. We are using it according to an older meaning of the word, simply to mean “the church that is for everybody, no matter who they are.”
So then, what does it mean to believe in the “catholic church” in this sense? It means we believe in one worldwide family that belongs to Jesus, and this family includes people from all different nations, with all different kinds of skin colors and languages, and who come from all kinds of different backgrounds. In the Bible, God set apart one particular nation to be his special people in the Old Testament. This nation, Israel, was commanded by God to separate itself from the other nations in order to be a holy people. But that was all in preparation for the coming of Jesus. Now that Jesus has come, he has united those who believe in him from Israel with those who believe in him from all the other nations of the world (known as “the Gentiles”) into one body. And we who are Christians are one body because of Jesus, and not because of anything else. We are not joined together because we all look the same (we don’t) or because we all have the same interests (we don’t) or because we are all the same age (we aren’t). We are joined together because God wants to glorify his Son by gathering a people together from every part of the world who love him and love each other because of him.
And that’s why, if we are the “holy catholic church,” as the creed says, we are also a “communion of saints,” a body of people who share their lives together in love. Of course, there is no way we can possibly share our lives with all the Christians in the world at all times, simply because we can’t possibly be with them all at once. But when the kingdom of Jesus comes, we will be together with them all forever. For now, we show our unity with the holy catholic church by sharing our lives together with the members of our own local church.
Suggested Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16 (or read the whole book of Ephesians together this week if you can).