How is the Church like the moon?

Dr Paul M Elliot

Like the moon, the Church shines with reflected light – is bigger than it looks – is the “lesser light to rule the night” – affects the world greatly but silently – has different phases – and at times, has its eclipses!

Just as God “appointed the moon for seasons,” He has appointed the Church for His eternal purpose. Commenting on Psalm 104:19, Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter draws some pithy parallels between the moon and the Church:

A scoffer who was as empty of truth as he was full of bluff derisively remarked, “Religion is all moonshine.” Unwittingly he came close to uttering a remarkable similitude. The moon and the Christian Church have much in common! What the one is to the physical world the other is to the spiritual; and we should be dark indeed without either! Trace the parallel.

The moon shines with reflected light. It has no light in itself. It shines with the reflected light of the sun. So the Church reflects the light of Christ. Apart from Him it has no light to give. In these days when the ecumenical movement gives large prominence to the so-called “world church”, and talks more about it than about HIM, it is well to remember that the Church was never put into the world to witness to itself. It can only give light as it forgets itself in reflecting Christ….

The moon is bigger than it looks. So is the true Church. There are more regenerate souls on earth than perhaps we think. See the final issue – “a multitude which no man could number, of all nations … ” (Rev. 7:9).

The moon is of all the heavenly bodies the most useful to us, except the sun. Even so, the greatest blessings which have come to the human race have come by the precious Gospel which the Church has spread abroad.

The moon is “the lesser light to rule the night”. So is the Church. Not by the sword, as Mohammed; not by a fear-instigating false authoritarianism, as papal Rome; but by the light of truth, the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

The moon affects the earth greatly but silently, influencing winds, tides, and weather. So does the true Church, unostentatiously, but spiritually, morally, purifyingly, affect human society.

The moon has different phases. The extent of it which we see is determined by the moon’s position to the sun. Equally so, the degree of divine light which men find in the Church is always determined by its relation to Christ.

The moon has its eclipses. Alas, so has the Church! When the moon comes between sun and earth, the earth is darkened. So is it when a self-important Church comes between Christ and men. Sometimes earth has come between moon and sun, and the moon itself has been darkened. So is the Church darkened whenever the “world” comes between it and Christ.

All this speaks to us….The Church is nothing apart from Christ. Let us pray that the organized Church may become again the unclouded luminary of Christ in a sin-darkened world.

“The Moon and the Church,” from Awake, My Heart: Daily Devotional Studies for the Year, by J. Sidlow Baxter (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1994), reading for September 23, page 283. This book is available in TTW’s Resource Store.


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