Have you ever wondered why God would ordain an institution into existence like the church? I have. I know that for most of us the church could be separated into two categories; the ones we love and the ones we avoid. Notice that I did not say that there are good and bad churches, or that the ones we love and the ones we avoid are not the same church at different times.
There are times when we are in a church and it is the place we long to be most. We crave the fellowship and we desire the nearness of others like us. But, there are other times; times when we dread going to church. It might be someone we feel has wronged us and we want to avoid. It may be that we are in sin and want to stay away because we fear being exposed and convicted by God’s word. Whatever the reason I think we can all agree that “church” is not a perfect concept. Don’t get me wrong! I did not say that God messed up when he instituted the church. I said that the church is not perfect. Ever wonder why? It’s because of YOU! (And me, and every other human being that makes up the church!) One of my mentors used to say that ministry would be great if it wasn’t for the people. I agree. So, if God is omniscient (and HE is) then why would he pick an institution like the church for His people to gather in and worship? I believe there are two reasons.
The First reason is because it will bring Him glory. The Second reason is because it will bring Him more glory! Allow me to explain. God is desirous of absolute praise and glory. This is not egomaniacal or proud. It is right and good. (See the writings of John Piper on this.) God is WORTHY OF ALL WORSHIP!!! The church exists to bring HIM honor and glory and praise. It is HIS right! Some of you may want to argue that the church exist to spread the gospel. To you I would kindly say that you are wrong. Christians have the command to spread the gospel, disciple and baptize. The church is in part a means where this is facilitated but it is NOT the church’s (or the pastor’s) job to evangelize. That job falls to individuals.
So, if the church is not a place for evangelism, then what? I want to make it clear that evangelism can and does take place in the church. My point is that evangelism is not the purpose of the church. The purpose of the church is to glorify God. Doubt me? Then check this out. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:21) That is purpose number one.
Purpose number two is what makes the church amazing! How does an organization that has as its purpose to glorify God bring God more glory? Look at that verse in Ephesians again. It happens by Christ Jesus. It is by becoming like Jesus that we glorify God. It is by loving one another that we become like Jesus. I mean why would anyone want to be a part of a church? There are people there! If we are all alike in our humanity then I don’t want to be anywhere near them!
It is said that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Whether you agree with that or not it is true that few things can hurt as much as the words and actions of people. In the church it can be even worse. Why? Because generally, these are people we love and trust, and when they show that they are still sinners it hurts. I know that not only have I experienced this but I am guilty of doing it also. It is this that brings God glory. Not the sin, the fact that as we grow in Christ likeness we change and do those things less and less. It is this that is God-honoring. It is this change in the makeup of the church that brings God glory. So this weekend when you go to church, remember that you are there for one reason and act in a way that would bring God glory!
Until next time,