Prioritizing the Church in Order to Delight in, Display, and Declare
We exist together as a church to worship God. To delight in him. To glorify him by drawing attention corporately to how great and beautiful and majestic and loving and mighty he is. This is his dwelling place. And he’s here to be worshiped. Not because he’s some megalomaniac, but because he is great and he is good and knows that his greatness and his goodness--his glory--is the best thing for us and it’s what he gives us in worship--himself. And we’re to respond with our entire being as our minds dwell on the truth of who he is and what he’s done to make us his church, and as our hearts burn with affection for the God of our salvation, and as our bodies can’t help but sing and shout and clap and raise hands and dance. The Apostle Paul said, Ephesians 3:21: “to him be glory in the church.”
And we exist as a church to care for one another. To display to one another the love of Christ we see in the gospel. Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Ephesians 5:25 again). And so now we love one another with that kind of self-giving love. it’s what marks us as members of the church. Jesus himself said it (John 13:35): “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It’s love that bind us together to live in harmony as a church (Colossians 3:14). When we’re together we’re to consider how to stir up one another to even more love and good works that flow from that love (Hebrews 10:24). So we care for one another and serve one another and forgive one another and counsel one another and bear with one another and teach one another and admonish one another and build up one another and encourage one another and pray for one another and we do all the other “one anothers” of the Bible in love. And, lo and behold, wayward sheep are brought back to the fold, sinning saints repent, weak saints are empowered, grieving saints rejoice again. And we all move forward together helping one another get across the finish line to finally rest in God’s glory. What a purpose!
And we exist together as a church to reach out to those who are still strangers and aliens, not citizens of God’s Kingdom. We declare the good news. We preach the gospel. You know that preaching the gospel is not merely the task of a few gifted people in the church, it’s the task, the purpose, the mission of the entire church. It’s our Great Commission (Matthew 28:19): “Go therefore and make disciples.” And we don’t have to move across the ocean to fulfill this purpose. Just walk across the street where you live, walk into the office where you work, walk into the gym where you exercise, walk to the soccer field where your kids play. And you will find people who need to hear the gospel. And some will join us, another brick in the building, being built up together into the dwelling place of God.
That’s our purpose. That’s the privilege that’s ours. To preach a message that if received brings a human being into the Kingdom of God for all eternity. Could we ever be part of anything more significant than that? The enormity of our purpose to worship God and to love one another and walk the narrow, hard road to eternal life together, helping one another along the way, and bringing as many people with us as will come--the enormity of that purpose, that mission says something about the significance and dignity and importance of this church, don’t you think? Are we flawed, flawed even in how we fulfill our purpose? Obviously. Are we inconsistent? Often. Are we imperfect? Always. Are we even hypocritical? Sometimes. But because of Jesus who placed us in his church, we have a purpose and identity and dignity like no other people on earth.
*Adapted from Together: Prioritizing, a sermon orginally preached by Rick Gamache on September 11, 2016*
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