The Vision of the Church
As His time on earth drew to a close, Jesus began to give instructions to His disciples. They were to do the works that He did, and would have the power to do so once the Holy Spirit came:
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:12
What did Jesus do while he walked the earth?
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17
Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. Luke 4:31-32
He healed, cast out demons, and did good to all:
…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38
After His resurrection, and before He went back to the Father, He touched on the topic again:
So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. John 21:15-17
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20
We must do the works that Jesus did: heal, set captives free, preach, (inspire) teach, (inform) love Him by feeding the flock, make disciples of all nations, baptize believers, and mentor them to be disciples.
There next few paragraphs may sound harsh, but I wrote them with my hand in my own bosom as a lifelong member of the church. Let us consider any comments on the basis of Scripture:
Why is it that so many churches today draw inspiration from the corporate world for their hierarchical structures, their vision- and mission statements? The simple church simply follows the vision given by Jesus. So much goes into corporate image, branding, and other niceties to attract the attention of the unchurched – but mostly the churched.
We see the first church also taking care of the poor among them. A seasoned old minister told me once that the quickest way to bankrupt the church is to give its money to the world. I have seen how public officials know where to go when they need money or volunteers, yet always resisted our message because that is too risky for them.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10
I have seen a trend develop over the years for churches to be involved in their communities, and it is taught and practiced as the gospel itself, yet we do not see that in Scripture. Why did it become necessary? To be accepted by the world, hoping they will join our churches?
Jesus never said that we should enjoy recognition by the world; He actually said we wouldn’t:
Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake. Luke 6:22
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. John 15:20
Only the truth sets people free, and that is the message that we ought to preach and teach. We do it lovingly from caring hearts, but while the truth sets free, it also hurts, and some people choose to be offended over the freedom that it brings. Often some form of persecution follows, but that is the Christian life.
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12
Church programs have become complex and expensive, but do not always bring in the lost. Christians do not always have good answers to the questions of believers and unbelievers alike because they are not properly taught in the deep things of the Word. Some Christians of long standing still struggle to give answers to simple questions.
I am advocating for the simple church that focuses on the vision that Jesus gave to the church, and set the rest aside. The world will never like the true church, and we should be concerned when they do. I have seen the underground church where Christians are persecuted, and was amazed by their strength and commitment. I live in a country where the church enjoys support and protection by the government, and weep for our weakness and lack of commitment.
…having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:5
Comfort has become the disease of the church in the West, but there is nothing comfortable about following Jesus! How many sinners came to surrender to the Lord through community involvement of your church?
What does your community think of your church?
The carnal ways of the world found its way into the modern church, and although it shields it against persecution, it removed the very reason why anyone would want to be a part of it. Life as a Christian looks too much like the lives of unbelievers, and to add church involvement to it makes life too busy.
Before we can call sinners to repentance, the church has some of its own repenting to do. Until that happens, the church will fail in its very purpose. It is time to get back to the basics, and pursue Jesus’ vision for the church. The lost are entitled to the voice and love of the true church in order to make informed decisions.
Read also part two here