I remember as a young boy going with my mother to the redemption center. It was an exciting time and most people that I saw coming from and going to the redemption center were happy because they knew that they had been blessed or were going to be blessed.
However, there were others like myself at the redemption center who could only dream. Unfortunately, much that could be found at the redemption center was far beyond my limited resources, so all I could do was wish and admire. The amount of work, energy and money necessary for me to be blessed at the redemption center would never come to fruition.
Many readers will remember these redemption centers that were all over the country. My mother, like many others, collected S&H Green Stamps. Other areas and merchants used “Plaid Stamps.” The stamps had very little monetary value and were given at grocery stores, gas stations and other retailers. A small number of stamps were given in proportion to the amount of money spent.
At the redemption center, you could pick up small booklets for pasting your S&H Green Stamps. Each booklet could hold 1,200 stamps and at the redemption center you could see items on display or pick up a wish book that told you how many stamps or booklets filled with stamps were needed for a particular item. I had a few stamps of my own from a comic book that I purchased. I was never able to fill more than one page in my booklet. I wanted a camera at the redemption center. It never happened.
I like the term “redemption center.” I like the term, not because it brings back memories of my childhood, but because there is a different redemption center where everyone can be blessed. The redemption center of which I speak is the church!
The church is a redemption center because it is the body of Christ. “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”(Colossians 1:18). Salvation is only found in Christ and He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). When one comes to Christ for salvation, sins are washed away by the powerful blood of Jesus (Revelation 1:5) and the recipient is then added to the church. We see documentation of this “adding” in Acts chapter 2 when about 3,000 on the day of Pentecost were obedient to the faithful preaching of the apostles, were baptized for the remission of sins and “added to the church” (Acts 2:37-47).
We can conclude from the Scriptures that the church is God’s redemption center.
The redemption center is where one must go to be blessed. The apostle Paul said in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Therefore, if God’s blessings are found only in Christ and the church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23; 3:20,21; Col. 1:18), then God’s plan for blessings and redemption is found only in the church.
We are living in a time where more and more are seeking to have a relationship with Christ and not with His church. Everyone who seeks this type of relationship should know that it is impossible to have a relationship with Christ and not have a relationship with His church. The church belongs to Christ! He promised to build it (Matthew 16:18) and He did. There is a divine side of the church. It originated in the mind of God and has been His plan from before the world was ever created (Ephesians 3:8-12).
The church is God’s redemption center. If only we can begin to fathom the greatness of it and the price paid to establish it. It is far more than a dream. God has brought us into it to be blessed.
Keith G. Ball is the preacher for the Delaware Church of Christ, 71 State Route 203, Delaware.