Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Purpose of the Church (1)

      There is another transition occurring within the church; and at a time like this it is important to look at scripture to try and understand God's intended purpose for it.  This understanding has become very important for me.  Here at Concordia College I witness a strange dichotomy when it comes to ministries on campus.  The campus ministry itself, led by the pastors on campus, has become very bland.  Sermons and teachings revolve around us instead of around God.  This 'church' seems to be more influenced by the World then it does  God, and it is reflected in where they search to find truth and how this changes the interworkings of the community. 

        On the other hand there is an 'emergent' church on campus as well.  These student led bible studies and worship services, have a different character then the more common 'Campus Ministry.'  Here it seems the students are more willing to look deep into themselves.  There is a yearning for not just more of life, but more of God (which of course are inextricably connected but not always recognized as such.)   However neither group is perfect, nor do they completely fulfill the purposes of the church as outlined in scripture.  I believe that every church body should strive to conform to the will of God; and in order to do that, we must look towards scripture for our guidance and direction.

      In Scripture Jesus scarcely mentions the word 'church', although he does often refer to it indirectly.  In Matthew 16:13-18 it says, "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "who do people say the Son of Man is?"  They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."  "But what about you?" he asked.  "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ."

      So what can we learn from this passage?  I think one of the most profound things is the blessing that Jesus gives to Peter, not the blessing in itself but the reason for the blessing.  Jesus blesses Peter not only because he claims Jesus is lord, but because he did not hear it from the mouths of men.  This shows and expresses how one must have an understanding of Jesus in order to truly accept Him as our savior.  Knowledge is not enough.  I cannot merely express a prayer on my lips proclaiming Jesus as my savior, rather it needs to be an internal understanding of myself in relation to Him.  Jesus then goes on to say, "and on this rock I will build my church." The church then is made of people who truly 'know' and 'understand' Jesus for who he is.  The church is built on the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  It is only in a community devoted to God and founded on Jesus Christ, where true unity, peace, and joy can be found.  The relationships within the church, which differ from relationships of the world, are not based on what we've done or who we are; but on who He is and what He has done.

John Piper puts it this way, "Do you love God because he makes much of you, or because he allows us to make much of Him?"  I was convicted by this question and I think it is an important one for every church and individual to answer.  One example of a church that appears to put people first, is Joel Osteen's church in Texas.  One that I have found that lifts God above all else, is Mark Driscoll's church in Seattle. 

Finally we are given a wonderful promise by God in Matthew 16.  Jesus says, "And the gates of Hades will not overcome it."  The true church, the community that consists of those who understand and know Jesus for who he is, will not be overcome by Satan!! How amazing is the power and glory of God, and oh what peace he brings.  Looking into it further, the imagery depicts the church as on the offensive not the defensive.  As members of the church we are called to battle against the evil that is in this world.  To be a light on a hill that cannot be hidden, to proclaim the good news to all the World; and Jesus promises victory!


  1. How encouraging to know that there are those who still seek the truth of the Word and are drawn to Jesus - especially on a college campus.

  2. Yes God is at work, however there is much darkness as well. It also depends on the campus in question. Some schools are very on fire, while others are very cold. Yet God is at work and he has not forsaken us. There is revival here at Concordia, pray that it will continue and that there will be a radical transformation!