Thursday, February 18, 2010

Purpose of the Church Part 2

I am a member of one of those churches that believes its mission is to save everyone. They have adopted the mentality that the purpose of the Church is to seek and save the lost – every one of them. They have taken one command of our Lord, a very important command at that, and determined that the last commandment is the most important. More remarkably, they have determined that the last commandment is the only one that shows us our purpose. As if our Lord hid the purpose of the Church from the disciples and apostles until the very last minute. For no where else can I find anything that even approaches limiting the purpose or the primary purpose of the Church to evangelism.

Scripture tells us many things. We are told true religion is to minister to the poor, to the widows and to the orphans. We are told to give to the saints. We are told to love our brothers and sisters. Consequently, we are never told to love the world – in fact, we are told that to love the world is to NOT love God. We are told that if we do not love our brother, we do not love God.

This past sabbath, I heard a good partial message on giving and generosity. The teacher gave a four point message on generosity, pointing out that generosity reflects God, glorifies God, tests our spirits, and blesses each of us. The teacher took as inspiration II Corinthians 8 and 9. It was a good session of teaching but it was incomplete. For in II Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul is specifically speaking of giving to the saints. This is brought out multiple times in each chapter. But the conclusion of this teacher was that our generosity is to be towards unbelievers. Remarkably, the whole point of the object of our giving is missed – rather more than missed in that it is noted incorrectly. An omission would have been better than an incorrect conclusion.

And herein is the point of all our love. If we do not love our brothers and sisters FIRST; if we do not love the saints MORE; if we do not love the Church BETTER; we do not love God. Jesus came to give his life for his Church. Jesus, in his most earnest hour of need refused to pray for ANYONE other than the church. It is not that Jesus did not have compassion for others – rather, it is that he loves the Church FIRST, MORE and BEST. Should we love differently?

We have taken one command of our Lord and replaced all the commands to love one another with this other command. Our cautionary statement should be found in Jesus’ warning words. To those who were being judged – to those who were to imminently face hell’s fire and God’s rage he says: “To the extent that you did not do it to the least of these my brethren, you did not do it to me.” Let us stop. Let us please stop. Please stop. Consider what is it to visit the ones in prison, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked. Jesus wasn't talking about the reprobate sinners in Haiti – he was talking about our brothers and sisters in Haiti. Jesus wasn't talking about unwed mothers in Seattle – he was talking about unwed mothers who are our sisters in Christ in Seattle.

We live in a country of excess. I believe that no other people in all of human history has had more excess than the United States of America in 2010. If one were to argue to me that our excess allows us to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters AND the unsaved – I would say “amen.” And if I saw my brothers and sisters doing just that I would have no reason to be alarmed. But be honest. This is NOT what is happening. This is NOT what is being taught. And this is NOT what our brothers and sisters experience generally. Generally speaking, Christians are second class citizens when it comes to church giving – it is the world they stand behind hoping to gather crumbs from the table. How far we have moved from Jesus’ teachings. How far we have removed the love of Christ from his children. How sad it is to see our churches refuse to love Jesus instead loving those who are at war with God.

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