During a recent visit to the dentist, the hygienist brought out a wand with a light at the end. She said this tool gave them the ability to photograph all their patients’ teeth so they would have a picture for comparison at future visits.
Isn’t it amazing how modern technology creates changes that impact our lives? What is even more amazing is how other things are not affected by modern tools.
For instance, the core procedure for cleaning teeth probably hasn’t changed much, if at all, since the first person decided the best way to remove plaque from teeth was with a metal dental pick.
Even though your dentist office may change how they do things, their core reason for existing has not changed. Similarly, the church may change how we do ministry, but the core reason for the church’s existence has not changed for more than 2,000 years.
In their book, Flickering Lamps: Christ and His Church, Henry and Richard Blackaby suggest and biblically support three purposes for Christ’s church: to glorify God, to make disciples and to bless their community.
The church is God’s creation where Christ is the head, and the church exists for His eternal purposes. Concluding the introduction to the purpose for the church, the Blackaby’s write, “When local congregations fulfill these purposes, they have God’s power, pleasure, and provision at their disposal. When churches forsake God’s purposes, they invite God’s judgment.”
A 2018 report by LifeWay Research indicated that 82.4% of North Carolina churches were declining or plateauing. Could it be that we have lost a sense of our biblical purpose as Christ’s bride, the church, and instead of receiving God’s power, pleasure and provision, we are receiving a taste of God’s judgment or discipline?
As individuals or churches decide to assess their walk as disciples and as part of the body of Christ called to glorify God, we may find that we need to refocus in the following three areas to receive God’s blessing.
1. Revitalize our understanding of God’s Great Commandment to love.
When Jesus was asked to share His understanding of the Great Commandment in the law, He said the first commandment is to love God and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. During Christ’s final hours with the 11 disciples before His arrest, Jesus gave them a new commandment to love one another. The demonstration of loving their brothers in Christ would show they were His disciples.
In 1 Corinthians 12 and 13, Paul positions love as the primary filter to understand the unity and gifts of the Spirit within the body of Christ and the living out of faith and hope.
Essentially, the charge to the church of Ephesus from Christ in Revelation 2 was that they must revitalize their love for Him — their first love.
So love is the leading core value of Scripture and is thus one of the primary ways of glorifying God as we lovingly make disciples and love each other and our community.
2. Revitalize our understanding of God’s great gospel.
The gospel, the good news, is that God loved the world and sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins, so that through believing and trusting in Jesus we would receive forgiveness of our sins and enter into an eternal relationship with God).
As significant as the gospel is to our salvation, it is just as significant to our continued walk with the Lord. It is the gospel that guides a believer’s daily walk in living out God’s love. The gospel is not an add-on to our life — the gospel is a Christ-follower’s life. We not only live out the truths of the gospel in all our relationships, but we proclaim the gospel in our tone and words.
Sharing the good news of Christ’s love and salvation is our daily mission and informs all aspects of our walk with God and others. Every believer is called on a mission to proclaim the gospel and to join Christ as He makes disciples who are disciple-makers themselves, influencing others across the street and across the world.
3. Revitalize our understanding of God’s call to repentance.
A walk through the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation reveals the condition of the seven churches described by Christ. Christ commends the churches for those works that glorified Him and rebukes those works that dishonored Him.
In each of the five churches receiving Jesus’ rebuke, He commanded the same action from each church and that action was to repent. Each congregation faced God’s correction, discipline and judgment if they did not repent.
Today, God will also speak to us through His word and through our prayers letting us know of those things that do not glorify Him. May we be willing to confess those things individually and corporately so we may receive God’s blessing.
As we each seek God’s favor and blessing, may we individually and as local churches seek to glorify God in all we do. May we understand that His Great Commandment to love and His commission to make disciples is the gospel lived out by His people and proclaimed throughout our world.
May you receive God’s blessing as you allow Him to revitalize your understanding of His great love, His great gospel and His call to repentance.
by Lee Childs / Contract Worker for Church Revitalization / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
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