Love Your Neighbor
From time to time in the history of the Church, and especially for the American Church in the past century, the question has arisen: What is the mission of the Church? This is a vital question for us to answer since it will drive our focus as an outward facing church. Ordinarily, the opposing sides in the discussion wrestle between seeing the Church’s mission in the world as the proclamation of the gospel or the relief of those who are poor and needy and suffering from injustice. Those churches who believe that the former is the right focus will pour their time and other resources into missions which explicitly proclaim the gospel. Those who are convinced that caring for our neighbor is the Church’s mission will focus their efforts on fighting injustice and building infrastructure (digging wells, building hospitals and schools, combating human trafficking, etc).
Some have tried to hold both views together, but this rarely succeeds. In fact, it often results in the focus slowly evolving into mostly good works while the proclamation of the gospel takes a back seat. The long-term result in such churches is that the gospel takes a back seat in every part of the church, and not just “missions.” Whether this is bad theology driving bad practice or bad practice that lacks careful theological consideration, I think we can all agree it’s a terrible state of affairs!
Where do things stand at All Saints? Well, I believe our theology is quite sound on this: The Church, as an organism or organization, must first and foremost proclaim the gospel! This is the mission given to us by Christ in Matthew 28:19–20! As we saw Sunday in Revelation 20, it is for this purpose that Satan has been bound, so that Christ, through his Church, may rob Satan of those souls which belong to God. In light of this, here are several ways in which All Saints is or should be fulfilling this Christ-given mission.
First, we are committed to proclaiming the gospel clearly in corporate worship every Sunday. This is often accomplished in and around the confession of sin and assurance of pardon, the sermon, and at the Table.
Second, we, the leadership, must be calling our congregation to be faithful in evangelism. We do this as well in our preaching and weekly Bible study as often as the Word exhorts us to it.
Third, we, the leadership, must equip the congregation for the work to which they are being called. You will be hearing more about this in the weeks to come.
And finally, the congregation must be obedient to God’s Word and be ready always to proclaim the truth! First Peter 3:15 says we should always be prepared to make a defense of the hope that is ours whenever anyone asks. This is the very minimum which we must do. We should never shy away from telling others about Christ.
Let’s all be prayerful that God would give us opportunities to tell others; that we would be paying attention and looking for those God-granted opportunities; that we would be bold to speak when they come; and that God would bless the harvest that we would bear much fruit.
It is God who is gathering his people—pursuing his lost sheep—and we who are being used by him for the work. Let’s joyfully be about our Father’s business in this present age, out of love for our neighbor, for the good of the Church, and the glory of Christ.
Your fellow servant of Christ,