In the previous weeks, we have looked at a couple of reasons why the church exists: the exaltation of God and the edification of the saints. But let's look at a third reason: The church is called to evangelize the world.
This purpose of the church is a natural outgrowth of the first two. If we are glorifying God and edifying one another, we will naturally want to share the hope of salvation with others through our loving actions and words. Healthy sheep will reproduce themselves. This was Christ's commandment before He ascended into heaven: "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere" (Mark 16:15 NLT). The church should do just that.
We are light to the world and salt to the culture. Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (NKJV). We do good works in our community: feeding, clothing, helping people get off drugs. We spend countless hours counseling people with marital problems. We reach out to unwed mothers, even helping them to find homes for their unwanted babies. The list goes on and on. Our purpose is to shine God's light in this dark world.
But we are also salt. Jesus said, in Matthew 5:13, "You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless" (NLT). Salt, in biblical times, was used to preserve meat. The church is a preservative in the culture. If you don't believe that, just look at the world after the church is removed: Antichrist emerges effectively unchallenged.
As that preservative, we stand up for what is right and true. We register and we vote our consciences, informed by our biblical worldview. We make no apology for that. We lift up Jesus Christ and we oppose sin. The story is told of President Calvin Coolidge, who returned home from church one Sunday. His wife asked him what the minister spoke on. Coolidge, a man of few words, simply said, "Sin!" "What else did he say?" she asked. President Coolidge replied, "He was against it!" That's right, we are against sin and yet we love sinners and want them to be saved.
We are here to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The church makes a huge mistake when it tries too hard to relate and compromise. Martin Lloyd Jones said, "When the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first."
If you want to see church in a whole new way, stop thinking like a consumer. Start thinking like a disciple. It's not about you; it is about God and others. Ask the Lord what your place is in the church. Come not to be served, but to serve, and watch what God will do. Church will come alive to you as a result. Let God revive you, and may it impact your church and your country as a result. May God fill us with the Holy Spirit to impact this world.