What is the goal of the Christian life? Is it to grow in Christ? What is the mission of the church? Is it to grow in numbers?
According to a new video series entitled “Behold Your God” the answer to both questions is ‘No.’
The goal of the Christian life is to know God as He reveals himself in Scripture. The mission of the church is to advance the Kingdom of Christ – His rule in our lives and in the world.
The difference may not seem significant to you, but it has profound consequences for the life of the believer and the corporate witness of the church. How does a person study the Bible if his goal is his own spiritual growth? He looks for passages that offer solutions to his spiritual dilemmas or guidance for his decisions. He might look for an answer in the book of Psalms if he is seeking comfort or Proverbs if he wants wisdom. But if his goal is to know Christ, He will approach the Bible systematically on a daily basis because that is how Christ reveals Himself.
If the goal of the preacher is to build up the body of Christ by providing helpful instruction for everyday issues, he will pick a topic and find scripture to support it. But if his goal is to proclaim Christ as He is revealed in the Bible, he will preach through the Bible in an expository way, letting God choose the topics and provide the themes. In this way God controls the message, keeping the preacher from promoting his own personal agenda.
If the mission of the church is simply to grow numerically, then the answer is bigger churches that draw more people through the use of professional performances and populist preaching. Anything that might put off a seeker or member, like strict church discipline or sermons that convict of sin, will be avoided. Issues that could be potentially divisive or damaging will not be addressed. Those aspects of faith that require an unusual commitment in time or effort but do not pay off proportionately in greater attendance will be ignored.
On the other hand, if the mission of the church is to advance the rule of Christ by conforming the church to His image in terms of behavior and witness, then no matter what the issue, it will be dealt with in a biblical fashion, regardless of the consequences for numerical growth.
The reason the lifestyles of believers look so much like those of unbelievers (ex. divorce rates are the same, pornography is a common problem for both) and the church has such a reputation for hypocrisy (ex. sexual abuse and cover up are becoming more common among Protestant ministers, not just Catholic clergy) is that we have misplaced our priorities. We have replaced a longing to know God better and to advance His kingdom with a self-centered focus on our own spiritual development and building bigger and better churches.
These are the issues that are preventing revival and hindering the work of Jesus Christ. It is these issues that “Behold Your God” addresses.