"OK, someone asked - then what is THE CHURCH?"
Well - to begin with it is a Grace Fellowship - of people who knowing they are saved by grace are very JOYFUL. That joy causes outreach, because we live and always have in a world that WANTS THAT. Joy can be and should be very attractive. ADD to that, Jesus claimed that "people" would know we are His disciples IF we have love for one another. A loving fellowship is not just a good thing - it is a sign of being genuine.
As Paul wrote his correspondence to Philippi, he challenged them to be God's "little heaven" on earth. They knew what is was like to be a "little Rome" - but they were struggling to LOVE each other. Paul's solution was partly "have their love abound MORE and MORE" 1:9, and also to realize they had their actual citizenship IN HEAVEN. A HUGE reason for focusing on being the church is to help make it God's outpost of grace in an alien land, 3:20.
What do we accomplish by meeting together if God's PRIMARY goals are not being our focus? It is a good thing to believe in God's grace (without explaining it away) - but it is a whole LOT more biblical to STAND IN GRACE and be known for our love for each other. STAND in grace? Paul and Peter emphasize that - and our world needs to see it or they won't see God's grace fellowship which is a little bit of heaven on earth.
Jesus prayed a prayer for disciples and maybe we could go back and challenge ourselves to "Let His will BE DONE on earth as it is in heaven" in this regard. It is wonderful to look forward to "heaven" - but Jesus wished for HIS will to BE DONE - as Kingdom life is received and experienced. We are NOW seated with Christ in the Heavenly realm, Ephesians 2:6, and God has gone to a LOT of trouble to show the earth HE LOVES US ALL. Sure, He does that by sending rain on the just AND the unjust, but is HE running us in the next phrase in Luke 6:35 - "HE is kind to the ungrateful and evil/selfish"?
We love to talk about love from 1 Corinthians 13 - well, until words like "patient and longsuffering" get in there. So - don't focus on those facets today - instead let's just take ONE word for our focus - "Love is KIND" - and until we focus on being God's outpost of grace, kindness just gets canceled.
However - if we continue a pilgrimage of grace, realizing that God forgave us - before we asked - and Jesus died for us "while we were YET sinners" and then, well - HE RUNS US NOW . . .maybe the world can learn to love like we should - "because HE first loved us" 1 John 4:10. Since HE runs us now - how about allowing God's grace family to LOVE FIRST. It proves a few things . . .more to come