O u r C a lling 9 the way of the cross as he did – the way of humility, vulnerability, and self-sacrificing love. 9 Our church community is only a small part of the universal church. This universal church is the body of Christ, made up of all who belong to him; it is his bride, set apart for him alone. It cannot be ­identified with any human institution or group. As the early Christians testify,* it is a work of God, not of man. Ordained from the beginning of creation, it includes the apostles, prophets, martyrs, and believers from every age who are with God as the “cloud of witnesses” from every nation, tribe, and race. If asked whether we are the one true church, we reply, “No” – we are merely objects of God’s mercy like everybody else. But if asked whether we experience the church as a reality in our daily lives, then we must affirm that we do, through the grace of God. Jesus promises that wherever even two or three are gathered in his name – that is, in full love and obedience to him – he will be present in their midst. Then their fellowship will be united with the one holy, universal, and apostolic church. Christ is the head of this church. Just as a single vine nourishes many branches, so he joins together the diverse bands of his followers on earth, endowing them with his authority, unity, and commission. * The Shepherd of Hermas, 3.4, 8.1 (ca. ad 95–154). Mark 10:42–45 Phil 2:1–11 Matt 16:18; Eph 4:4–6 1 Cor 12:12–13; Eph 5:25–27 Rev 21:1–14; Hos 2:19–20 Rev 7:9–10 Heb 12:1–2, 22–24 Rev 5:9–10 Matt 18:18–20 Matt 28:19–20 Gal 3:26–29 Eph 1:22–23; John 15:1–8 John 20:21–23 Matt 16:19