What is your Church Purpose?
Purpose Based on the Greatest Commandments
The primary purpose of the church is the same as it was for God's people from the beginning of time. Jesus clearly summed up all the commandments of the law and all the preaching of the prophets with a small but powerful word -- LOVE.
Unchanging Aspect of God's Purpose
Jesus' first commandment in Matthew 22:37 reiterated what was already commanded to His people back in Deuteronomy 6:5 - “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind/strength.” All that you are and all that you have is to be poured into loving God.
The first four of the Ten Commandments describe ways people could show their love to God by keeping Him first, by honoring Him, and by remembering Him. The remaining six commandments communicate love for people by doing them no harm but rather good.
Love for God will spill over into love for people. If we do not love people, we should question our love for God.
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:20-21)
The prophets resonated a similar theme. Compare Isaiah 58 to 1 John. In essence, God was saying to these people, “How can you say you love me if you cannot love those around you?” Their actions betrayed what was in their hearts. God knew they were merely going through the motions.
Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. (Isaiah 58:3b-4)
God goes on to tell the people that truly humbled hearts in love with God would be manifested when they "loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and to break every yoke ... to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood" (Isa. 58:6-7). The theme repeats itself. -- Love God. Love people.
God's purposes have not changed in the church age. "This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another" (1 Jn. 3:11). "And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother" (1 Jn. 4:21). Jesus said that by such love "all men will know you are my disciples" (Jn. 13:34-35).
Read More: Our Greatest Purpose in Life Made Clear by Jesus
Ability to Fulfill God’s Purpose
What has changed is that the Christian has a greater motivation, a greater power, and a greater confidence “to live a life of love,” as commanded in Ephesians 5:1-2, than those in previous ages.
A Greater Motivation: Prior to the church, people could only look forward to the highest example of love -- the death of Jesus. We stand on the other side of the cross, looking back at what He has done. We have a fuller understanding of what love is which becomes a source of motivation for us to love as He loved.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 Jn. 3:16)A Greater Power: Before ascending into heaven, Jesus promised His disciples the Holy Spirit who would come and permanently dwell within them. The Spirit always existed and always worked but in the Old Testament time He came on people temporarily as the occasion required to do a work for God. As we live by the Spirit within us, we will "not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" but rather exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, primary of which is love (Gal. 5:16, 22-23). We have a Helper within us unlike those in previous ages.
A Greater Confidence: When Jesus died, the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn in half symbolizing the direct access we now have to God. We no longer must go through the human agent of a priest. We are direct recipients of all God has to give us. That builds within us a boldness to approach God’s throne and also a confidence to love as He loves.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears in not made perfect in love. (1 Jn. 4:16-18)
The purpose is the same but the Church is in a unique position to fulfill God’s purpose. Of all peoples through all times, we should have the motivation, power, and confidence to move out in ways that show love for God and love for people. Do the Greatest Commandments to love God and love people form the basis of your church purpose?
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