The majority of churchgoers today are self-seeking consumers. That may appear to be a harsh statement but in reality, we take our marketplace mentality that we get from the culture and bring into our churches. So in a culture that’s all about “me”, like what products make me look cooler and more stylish, which friends make me seem more popular, and what classes and events will add greater value to my life, its no surprise that this has rubbed off on us about how we do church. Therefore, when it comes to God and church, we tend to think that we are the center of this whole thing, as if church was about us and what we get out of it. However when you look at Scripture, you will consistently see this theme that God is for God and for His glory, and the reason why the church exists is to glorify God. So in the next few weeks we are going to do a study on the Mission of God and the Mission of the Church, so that we can fully understand the purpose of the church.
The Mission of God
As a new church plant in Fayetteville Arkansas, a question that we should ask ourselves is, “why are we here?” Why does The Hill Church even exist? What’s our purpose? But before we can fully answer that question we need to go a little farther up and see what God is doing from a 1,000-foot level. Or in other words, what is God’s grand narrative in his sovereign plan? When we do that, we find out that God has been on mission from Genesis 1:1, which is to bring glory to himself through the restoration of all things that are broken. Even in the creation account, what we see is a God who brings order to the chaos (Gen. 1:2), and displays his majesty through his created works so that all might know him (Rom. 1:20).
Prior to the Fall, when God created all things, everything was at such a peace that it was called shalom. In English we translate that word as “peace” but the theological idea behind shalom is far greater than just “harmony.” It refers to rightness, universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight – it’s the recognition that things are the way they are suppose to be. However, the sin of Adam and Eve broke this shalom when they sinned against the LORD, because in man’s rebellion the relationship between man and God broke. Keller says:
“Human beings are so integral to the fabric of things that when human beings turned from God the entire warp and roof of the world unraveled... We have lost God’s shalom – physically, spiritually, socially, psychologically, culturally. Things now fall apart” –Tim Keller from Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism
But God doesn’t leave this world in its state of brokenness. Ever since Genesis 3:15, he has been on mission to re-establish shalom, restore creation, bring about His kingdom, and build up the church.
The other day I dropped my iPad when I was carrying it and the screen cracked. My first reaction was disgust and anger because now this device can no longer operate the way it was functioned to operate. I got online and started to research what I could do to fix the screen and try to restore it back to its original condition. Now the silly thing is that my iPad is just a trinket. It’s a toy that I use to surf the web and watch Netflix, but as soon as it was broken I immediately began thinking about how I could restore it. If I spend so much energy to restore a device that is broken, how much more does God, who loves us and this world far more than I can love a device, long for and seek to restore his broken creation? How much more does God yearn for the restoration of all that has been skewed by the fall?
This is the glorious news of the Gospel that the church clings to and declares’; that God did not leave us in our brokenness and corruption, but he himself came to rescue and renew all of creation through the work of Jesus Christ.
For the Glory of God
Where we tend to get it wrong is often we think that God’s work of salvation and redemption is about us. That the point of God choosing us, saving us, and rescuing us from the penalty of sin is for us and our benefit. So when they look at the Bible they see a reflection of themselves and not a reflection of the God who saves. But, if I can put it simply, the point of the Bible is not man, it’s about God. God is for God and when he is at work in the universe he does it for his own glory and for his namesake. The fact that God has saved a remnant of humanity and called her the Church is not for the benefit of man, but it’s to show how great, merciful, gracious and loving is our God. So God’s mission is for his own renown.
In case you want to push back on this, let me give you a slew of Bible verses that support this.
Isaiah 43:6-7 - God created us for His glory
Isaiah 49:3 - God calls Israel for His glory
Jeremiah 13:11 – God chooses Israel as his chosen nation because his glory will be shown greater through his use of this small nation
Psalm 106:7-8 – God rescues Israel from Egypt for His glory
Romans 9:17 – God raises Pharaoh to show His power and glory
Exodus 14:4; 17-18 – God defeats Pharaoh by the Red Sea to show his glory
Ezekiel 20:14 – God spared Israel in the wilderness for the glory of His name
2 Samuel 7:23 – God gave Israel the Promised Land for his glory
2 Samuel 12:20-22 – God did not cast away His people for the glory of His name
2 Kings 19:34; 20:6 – God saved Jerusalem from attack for the glory of His name
Ezekiel 36:22-23; 32 – God restored Israel from exile for the glory of His name
John 7:18 – Jesus seeks the glory of the Father in all he did
Matthew 5:16 – Jesus says that your good works gives glory to God
John 5:44 – Jesus said that faith is impossible without seeking the glory of God
John 14:13 – Jesus answers prayers so that God would be glorified
John 12:27-28 – Jesus endured suffering for the glory of God.
Isaiah 43:25 – God forgives our sin for his own sake
Romans 15:7 – Jesus receives us into His fellowship for the glory of God
1 Corinthians 10:31 – God instructs us to do everything for his glory
1 Peter 4:11 – God tells us to serve so that we glorify Him
2 Thess. 1:9-10 – Jesus is coming again for the glory of God
John 17:24 – Jesus ultimate hope is for us to enjoy his glory
Habakkuk 2:14 – God’s plan is to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory
Revelation 21:23 – The glory of God will replace the sun
Now I could have gone further, but I wanted to show you that this is a consistent theme throughout Scripture. Whenever we think that the story of the Scripture is about us, then we deprive God of the glory that is rightly His. And since the mission of God is for the acclaim of his glory through the redemption and restoration of broken creation, therefore, the mission of the Church should be the same. But more on that in the next blog entitled The Mission of the Church.