Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why the Church?

Recently I've been giving a lot of thought as to the reason for the church's existence. Just what is the purpose of the church? There are a variety of answers that are put forth in reply to that question, possibly indicating that it's purpose is far more complex than we can adequately express, or that we really don't know what the purpose is. In either case, our multitude of answers reveals some fuzzy thinking pertaining to the purpose of the church.
Should it come as a surprise to us then when we are confronted with statistics that show a decline here in the West pertaining to church involvement? If we are unclear about our purpose, there is no focus, no clear direction, no perseverance, resulting in little or no fruit.
Could it be that we have lost sight of our purpose by leaving our first love? If the church is the body of Christ, if he fills this body with the fullness of himself, then might we not discover what the purpose of the church is by recognizing what his purpose is? The Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, testify to the purpose of Jesus, and that purpose is the same today for his spiritual body as it was 2000 years ago when he dwelt in a body of flesh. So the question the church must ask is, "What was and is the purpose of Jesus?"

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Carmen, I love that question - what is the purpose of JESUS? Yes! In fact, that is something I have been pondering for a few weeks now... this idea of focusing our attention on Jesus, rather than the machine called "the church." I just finished reading a book that I was surprised I liked - called, "Velvet Elvis." I suppose you have heard of it???? If not, you should read it - I would be curious to hear your thoughts...
I read Velvet Elvis and really enjoyed it. It would take far too much time and space to fully share my thoughts, but I'll try to encapsulate them in a few comments.
I love his questioning style in writing the book. It isn't a questioning of unbelief, but rather a questioning that explores the mystery of God. The recognition that God is so far beyond our frail human ability to comprehend is refreshing in the light of all those who try to explain everything about God.
The historical and cultural background through which he presents the life of Jesus brings alive scriptures and events in Jesus' life that too often are just dry facts of paper and ink.
Just as Jesus was a part of the culture he was born and raised in, so are we in our culture. As he manifested the kingdom in his culture, the author exhorts us to do the same in our culture.
On page 14, the author says, "But this book is for those who need a fresh take on Jesus and what it means to livre the kind of life he teaches us to live." I think he accomplishes that.
I like what he says on the back cover. I think it accurately represents the tone and direction of the book.
As western believers, we need to wrestle with the Word as he suggests, so that we better understand it to apply it and walk in it.
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