Task of the church

Human strategies are based on limited human understanding and the best assessments people can make. On the other hand, God's strategy, his call in our lives, is based on an absolutely perfect understanding of the fundamental and ultimate reality. This is indeed the glory of Christianity: things are presented as they really are. The Christian diagnosis of all diseases in the world, from the conflicts between nations to the tensions in the human soul, is true because it reflects a true understanding of the human condition.

The letters of the NT always start with the truth, we call it "doctrine". The writers of the NT always call us back to reality. Only when this foundation of truth has been laid do they pass on to indications of practical application. How foolish it is to do anything other than to begin the truth.

In the introductory chapter of Ephesians, Paul makes several clear statements regarding the purpose of the church. It's not just the purpose for eternity, some misty future fantasy, but the purpose for here and now.

Purpose No. 1: The church should reflect God's holiness

"For in him, even before the foundation of the world, he chose us to stand holy and blameless before his face." (Ephesians 1, 4). Here we see clearly that the church is not just an afterthought of God. It was planned long before the world was created.

And what is God's first interest in the Church? He is not the first interested in what the church does, but what the church is. Being must precede action, because what we are determines what we do. To understand the moral character of God's people, it is essential to understand the nature of the Church. As Christians we should be moral examples of the world, reflecting the pure character and holiness of Jesus Christ.

It is obvious that a true Christian, be he an archbishop or an ordinary layman, should clearly and convincingly exemplify his Christianity by the way he lives, speaks, acts and responds. We Christians were called to stand before God "holy and immoral." We should reflect His Holiness, and that is the purpose of the Church.

Purpose No. 2: The Church should reveal God's glory

Paul gives us another purpose for the Church in the first chapter of Ephesians "(He) has us in love through Jesus Christ to sons who should belong to him, destined for the pleasure of his will to glorify the glory of his grace" (Verse 5) "We should serve to glorify His glory, we who have placed our hope on Christ from the beginning" (verse 12).

Remember! The sentence: "Who set our hope from the beginning to Christ," refers to us Christians whom we are destined to call for the praise of His glory. The first task of the church is not the well-being of the people. Certainly our well-being is very important to God, but that is not the first task of the Church. Rather, we were chosen by God to praise His glory that through our lives His glory is revealed to the world. As Hope for All expresses, "Now, with our lives, we should make God's glory visible to all."

What is God's glory? It is God Himself, the revelation of what God is and does. The problem of this world is its ignorance of God. She has no understanding of him. In all her search and wanderings, in her quest to find the truth, she does not know God. But God's glory should be revealed to God to show the world as it really is. When the works of God and God's nature are shown through the church, it is glorified. Like Paul in 2. Corinthians 4, 6 has described:

For God, who commanded, "Out of darkness shines forth the light," is he who has made the light shine in our hearts, to make the knowledge of the glory of God shine in the face of Christ.

People can see the glory of God in the face of Christ, in his character. And this glory, Paul says, is also found "in our hearts." God calls the Church to reveal to the world the glory of his character, which is to be found on the face of Christ. This is also mentioned in Ephesians 1, 22 - 23: "Yes, he has laid everything at his feet (Jesus) and made him the paramount head for the church that is his body, the fulness of him who fills everything in all "That's a huge statement! Here Paul says that everything that is Jesus (His fullness) is to be seen in His body, and that is the Church! The mystery of the church is that Christ lives in it and the message of the church to the world is to preach it and talk about Jesus. Paul describes this mystery of the truth about the church once again in Ephesians 2, 19 - 22

Accordingly, you are no longer strangers and strangers now, but you are full citizens with the saints and God's housemates, built on the ground of the apostles and prophets, in which Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. In him every burrow, fixed together, grows up into a holy temple in the Lord, and in this you too are built up into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Here is the holy mystery of the church, it is the abode of God. He lives in his people. This is the great calling of the Church to make the invisible Christ visible. Paul describes his own ministry as a model of a Christian in Ephesians 3, 9 - 10: "And to give all enlightenment as to what it has to do with the realization of the mystery that was bent from the beginning of time in God, the Creator of all things, so that the multiform wisdom of God may now be manifested to the powers and powers in the heavens by the church. "

Clearly. The mission of the church is to "proclaim the multiform wisdom of God." They are made known not only to human beings but also to the angels who observe the Church. These are "the powers and powers in the heavens." In addition to human beings, there are other beings who are attentive to the Church and learn from it.

Surely the above verses make one thing very clear: the call to the church is to explain in words the character of Christ who lives in us and to prove it by our attitude and deeds. We are to announce the reality of the life-changing encounter with the living Christ and vividly present this change through selfless, loving life. Until we do this, nothing else we do will be effective for God. This is the calling of the church of which Paul speaks when he writes in Ephesians 4, 1: "So I exhort you ... Walk worthily to the vocation that has come to you."

Notice how the Lord Jesus Himself confirms this vocation in the opening chapter, verse 8 of the Acts of the Apostles. Just before Jesus ascends to his Father, he says to his disciples, "You will, however, receive power when the Holy Ghost comes upon you, and you will witness me in Jerusalem and throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth . "
Purpose No. 3: The Church should be a witness to Christ.

The vocation of the church is to be a witness, and a witness is one who explains and portrays vividly. The Apostle Peter has a wonderful word about the testimony of the Church in his first letter: "You, on the other hand, are the chosen race, the royal priesthood, the holy people, the people chosen for possession, and they shall proclaim the virtues (glories) of those who have called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1, Peter 2,9)

Pay attention to the structure "You are ..... and should." That is our priority as Christians. Jesus Christ dwells in us so that we vividly portray the life and character of the One. It is the responsibility of every Christian to support this call to the Church. All are called, all are inhabited by the Spirit of God, all are expected to fulfill the vocation in the world. This is the clear tone that sounds throughout the Ephesians. The testimony of the church can sometimes find expression as a group, but the responsibility to witness is personal. It is mine and her personal responsibility.

But there comes another problem: the problem of possible false Christianity. It is so easy for the church, and also for the individual Christian, to talk about the character of Christ and to magnify the claim to do it. Many non-Christians who know Christians better know from experience that the image that Christians give does not always correspond to the true biblical image of Jesus Christ. For this reason, the apostle Paul describes this genuine Christ-like character in carefully chosen words: "with all humility and gentleness, with patience as such, who bear each other in love, and are eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace . "(Ephesians 4, 2 - 3)

Humility, patience, love, unity and peace are the true characteristics of Jesus. Christians should be witnesses, but not arrogant and rude, not with a "holier than you" attitude, not in hypocritical conjecture and certainly not in the dirty church dispute where Christians face Christians. The church should not talk about itself. She should be meek, not insist on her power or seek more reputation. The Church can not save the world, but the Lord of the Church can. Christians should not work for the church or consume their vital energy for them, but for the Lord of the Church.

The Church can not hold up her Lord while she exalts herself. The true church does not seek gain of power in the eyes of the world, for it already has all the power it needs from the Lord who dwells in it.

Further, the Church should be patient and forgiving, knowing that the seed of truth needs time to sprout, time to grow, and time to bear fruit. The church should not demand that society suddenly make rapid changes in a long-established pattern. Rather, the Church should exemplify positive social change through her example by avoiding evil, practicing justice, and thus spreading the seed of truth, which then takes root in society and ultimately brings forth fruit of change.

The outstanding sign of genuine Christianity

In his book "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," the historian Edward Gibbon attributes the collapse of Rome to non-invasive enemies, but to internal disintegration. In this book is a section that Sir Winston Churchill memorized because he found it so fitting and instructive. It is significant that this section dealt with the role of the church in the declining empire.

"While the great entity (the Roman Empire) was attacked by open force and undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion crept gently into the minds of men, grew up in silence and lethargy, got uplifted by resistance, and finally established the banner of the cross on the ruins of the Capitol. "The salient sign of the life of Jesus Christ in a Christian is, of course, love. Love accepting others as they are. Love that is merciful and forgiving. Love that seeks to heal misunderstanding, division and broken relationship. Jesus said in John 13, 35: "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among one another." This love is never expressed through rivalry, greed, boasting, impatience or prejudice. It is the pure opposite of insult, slander, obstinacy and division.

Here we discover the unifying power that enables the Church to fulfill its purpose in the world: the love of Christ. How do we reflect God's holiness? By our love! How do we reveal God's glory? By our love! How do we witness the reality of Jesus Christ? By our love!
The NT has little to say about Christians who participate in politics, or in defense of "family values," or promote peace and justice, or oppose pornography, or defend the rights of this or that oppressed group. I am not saying that Christians should not take care of these matters. It is obvious, you can not have a heart that is filled with love for people and not worried about such things. But the NT says relatively little about these things, because God knows that the only way to solve these problems and heal broken relationships is by introducing a totally new dynamic into people's lives - the dynamics of the life of Jesus Christ.

It is the life of Jesus Christ that men and women really need. The removal of darkness begins with the introduction of light. The removal of hate begins with the introduction of love. The removal of disease and depravity begins with the introduction of life. We must begin to introduce Christ, for that is our vocation to which we have been called.

The gospel sprouted in a social climate similar to ours: it was a time of injustice, racial division, rampant crime, rampant immorality, economic uncertainty, and widespread fear. The early church struggled to survive under ruthless and murderous persecution that we can not imagine today. But the early church did not see its vocation in combating injustice and oppression or in enforcing its "right." The early church saw its mission reflected in God's holiness, in the manifestation of God's glory and in witnessing to the reality of Jesus Christ. And she did it through the vivid demonstration of boundless love for one's own people, as well as the outsiders.

The exterior of the mug

Anyone looking for scriptures that show strikes, protest boycotts and other political actions to address social failings will be disappointed. Jesus called it "washing the exterior." A true Christian revolution changes people from within. It cleans the inside of the mug. It does not just change the keywords on the poster that a person wears. It changes the heart of the person.

Here, churches often slip off the path. They become obsessed with political programs, either from the right or from the left. Christ came into the world to change society, but not through political action. His plan is to change society by transforming the single person in this society by giving her a new heart, a new spirit, a new direction, a new direction, a new birth, a revived life and so on the death of the ego and egoism. When the individual is transformed, we have a new society.

When we are changed from within, when the interior is purified, our whole view of human relationships changes. When we are confronted with conflict or mistreatment, we tend to react in the sense of "eye for eye." But Jesus calls us to a new kind of reaction: "bless those who persecute you". The apostle Paul calls us to such a reaction when he writes: "Be one with one another in harmony with one another ..... Do not repent evil with evil ..... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good". (Romans 12, 14 - 21)

The message that God has entrusted to the Church is the most sweeping message the world has ever heard. Should we put this message back in favor of political and social action? Should we be satisfied that the church is merely a secular, political or social organization? Do we have enough faith in God, do we agree with him that Christian love lived in his church will change this world and not political power and other social measures?

God is calling us to become responsible persons who spread this radical, disruptive, life-changing good news of Jesus Christ throughout society. The Church needs to re-enter commerce and industry, education and learning, art and family life, and our social institutions with this powerful, transforming, unparalleled message. The risen Lord Jesus Christ has come to us to implant in us his own never-ending life. He is ready and able to transform us into loving, patient, trustworthy people, so we are strengthened to cope with all the problems and challenges of life. This is our message to a tired world filled with fear and suffering. This is the message of love and hope that we bring to an unruly and desperate world.

We live to reflect God's holiness, to reveal God's glory and testify to the fact that Jesus came to cleanse men and women inside and out. We live to love each other and to show the world Christian love. That is our purpose, that is the vocation of the Church.

by Michael Morrison