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. 1 John 4:20-21)
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. (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 a confidence to love as He loves. (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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