The purpose of the church!
Through His apostles, Christ revealed the preciousness of the church and the power and purpose that is entrusted to it. According to the epistles, it is clear that God put all things under Christ’s feet, “and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22). Husbands are admonished to love their wives “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
The apostle Paul teaches all believers that they are to give honor to each other as members of Christ’s body, functioning together and living in interdependency with one another to build up the body of Christ (1 Cor. Chapter 12). And he revealed the mandate of the five key ministry gifts of the church – apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher for “…the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…” (Eph. 4:12, NAS).
Paul explains that the primary purpose of church leadership is to equip believers to fulfill their destiny in answer to the heart cry of God for the earth: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. And Jesus stated clearly that He had come to “seek and to save that which is lost” (Lu. 19:10). As believers are equipped for service, they will be filled with passion to do the same, to fulfill the heart cry of the Head of the church and to seek the redemption of lost souls.
Only in pursuing this clear mandate can church leaders begin to establish the Kingdom Driven Life and become the “salt and light” of the world. Any lesser path results in the church functioning as an ecclesiastical dynasty hidden within four walls, reciting empty and powerless creeds of theological dogma. These practices make the church less relevant to the lives of even sincere believers in our world today.
The purpose of every Christian is to be like leaven, influencing the environment where God places them until it is quietly transformed to reflect the glory of God. Without this understanding of priority and purpose, much of the church has become powerless to affect the spiritual and moral darkness of the society in which we live.
The church must learn to rule and reign in every area of life where believers are in order carry the glory of God into those places. They are to become God-carriers to transform their sphere of influence, extending the principles of the Kingdom there. According to sociologists, there are seven major spheres of life, which are categorized generally as follows:
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy so that he would know how to conduct himself in the house of God, “which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). All of society is to feel the powerful, transforming influence of this “pillar and ground of the truth”, the church. In order for the glory of God to fill all the earth, it is necessary that the truth and the principles of His Kingdom become pillars upon which all of society rests.
PRIORITY OF THE KINGDOM
Jesus articulated the priority of the Kingdom, the Father’s divine heartbeat when He taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). True Disciples of Christ will be motivated with the passion of God’s heart to restore His Kingdom, His will, His power, and His glory in all the earth. The godliness demonstrated in the realm of heaven must become the reality of earth. Extending the principles of the Kingdom of heaven throughout the earth, throughout all of society, is the mandate of the church—of every believer. The ministry of reconciling people personally to God, increases the number of people who carry God’s glory throughout the earth.
What does this divine priority—the heartbeat of God—look like in the 21st century? It means that every believer must learn to occupy his or her “promised land”, as the children of Israel were assigned to do. As they routed the beasts and the giants dwelling in the Promised Land, they possessed it, subduing it to the will of God (Ex. Chapter 23). They did not huddle together in their tribes and allow the inhabitants of the land and the beasts of the field to rule over them.
Jesus’ priority of the Kingdom is missing in many churches today. Instead of the passion to establish Kingdom principles and values on the earth, we see an attitude of apathy and lack of motivation, even defeat, in many church-goers and church leaders. Church-goers and leaders have some sense of saving people from the domain of darkness but little sense of being saved to fulfill our Kingdom purposes. It is almost like people think our salvation is punctuated by a pause while we await our eternal purposes in heaven.